17-year-old trans teen Tayy Dior Thomas shot dead in Alabama

A transgender teenager has been killed in a shooting in Alabama, making her the second under-18 trans person killed this year.

Local news outlets reported that officers responded to reports of shots being fired on Darwood Drive in Mobile, on 7 May. When they arrived at the scene, they discovered a crashed vehicle and a body in the front garden. The victim was later identified as 17-year-old Tayy Dior Thomas.

Carl Washington Jr, 20, has been charged with murder and shooting into an occupied or unoccupied building or vehicle. Media outlets have reported that he and Thomas were in a relationship at the time. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Several groups have criticised the investigation, which is not treating the incident as a hate crime.

After several media outlets misgendered and deadnamed Thomas, her family told the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that she used she/her pronouns and was transgender.

Her grandmother, Rolanda Carl, said Thomas always had a “huge smile on her face showing her dimples,” and that she loved doing her hair and “would help anyone”, adding that she was “shy but so fearless” with a “natural leadership ability”.

Carmarion Anderson, HRC’s state director for Alabama, said: “In speaking with Tayy’s family, it is clear how deeply she was loved and cared for. Her death is a massive loss for everyone who had the privilege of knowing her and for those who had not yet had the chance to do so.

“We join Tayy’s family in their fight for justice, including their call to have her [death] classified as a hate crime.”

The HRC believe Thomas is at least the 14th trans or gender-expansive person victim of a violent death this year and the second under the age of 18.

The advocacy group uses the term “at least” because “too often, these deaths go unreported or misreported”.

Tori Cooper, the HRC’s director for community engagement and transgender justice, said: “By all accounts, Tayy was a beautiful soul deeply loved by her family, friends and community.”

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