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NCAVP mourns the death of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, a white transgender woman who was killed by her husband on January 5, 2018 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She is the first transgender victim of deadly violence NCAVP has received a report of this year. According to media reports, Christa, who was 42, died of stabbing and blunt force trauma after a domestic dispute with 47-year-old Mark Steele-Knudslien, who has been charged with her murder.
We mourn the loss of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien and send love and care to her friends and loved ones. Christa was beloved by and deeply involved with the local and national trans community and founded the Miss Trans America pageant and the Miss Trans New England pageant. Her death has spurred many activists to promote awareness of how intimate partner violence uniquely affects the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.
In a press release with Elizabeth Freeman Center, Safe Passage, and NELCWIT, Sabrina Santiago, Co-Executive Director of The Network/La Red said: “The LGBQ/T communities are no stranger to mourning the violent loss of community members. We talk about homicide, especially towards trans women, as hate crimes rooted in homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. However, we don’t talk about the LGBQ/T homicides that occur in relation to domestic violence. We need to start talking about the violence occurring within our communities.”
Though not often talked about, intimate partner violence (IPV) affects lesbian, bisexual, and gay people at the same or higher rates than non-LGB people. Transgender people in particular experience IPV at higher rates – about 30 to 50%, compared to 28 to 33% of the general population. However, LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination and violence when accessing care and support around relationship violence.
Working together to support each other as a community, and helping support those who might be in abusive relationships, is crucial to helping prevent intimate partner violence before it escalates. In doing so, we must also work to enrich our narratives and models of what healthy, loving LGBTQ relationships look like, and support each other in understanding and learning that we are all deserving of love, as a community and as individuals.
In memory of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. Read the full list here.
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.