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Shooting Death of Nikai David Marks 50th Known Trans Murder of 2021

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday December 10, 2021

Nikai David, a 33-year-old trans woman of color, was gunned down in Oakland, California, on Dec. 4. Her murder marked the 50th known murder of a trans or gender-nonconforming person this year, shattering 2020's previous record, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks lethal anti-trans violence.

David, who had celebrated her birthday the week before she was killed, "was a model and aspiring social media influencer who dreamed of opening her own clothing boutique," the HRC said.

"According to a news report, police officers responded to a shooting on Castro Street in West Oakland where they found Nikai suffering from gunshot wounds," added the HRC. "She died at the scene."

Friend Ashlee Banks told local news station KTVU she was "devastated" by the loss of a woman she regarded as a sister. Although police say that at this time there is no evidence David's killing was driven by anti-trans hatred, Banks said, "I know there was some type of physical altercation that led to my sister getting shot in her head."

National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Victoria Kirby York denounced the killing, saying in a statement, "Everyone deserves to live without the fear of violence because of their identity. Everyone deserves to feel protected."

"All of us must stand with the transgender community, listen to their needs, and respond to those needs in whatever way we can," York added.

David's murder follows the Nov. 13 shooting death of Danyale Thompson, a 35-year-old trans woman of color, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Cris Blehar, 65, a white trans woman and military veteran, was killed in her home in May, but her status as a trans victim of deadly violence was not reported until this month. A suspect in the case has been apprehended and charged, the HRC reported.

More recently, Angela Naira, 36, a trans woman of color, was found shot to death at her home in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

The overwhelming majority of victims have been trans women of color, noted the New York Daily News.

"In the year that we've marked as the deadliest year on record for our community, we continue to see a frightening rate of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people," the Daily News quoted Tori Cooper, of the HRC's Transgender Justice Initiative, as saying. "We must all continue to demand that the violence cease."

Previously, 2020 had seen the highest toll of trans lives stolen through deadly violence, with 44 known victims.

The true number of fatalities may be even higher, the HRC noted, "because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported," thanks to misgendering of the victims by the media, families, and the authorities.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.