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Understanding the Threat of Gun Violence for Transgender People

Diamond Kyree Sanders had a charming personality, an eclectic sense of style, and unwavering love for her family and friends. 

She enjoyed traveling across the US and was described as a “ball of energy” by her family. On March 3, 2021, Diamond was shot and killed in an armed robbery. Diamond is the 11th documented case of a transgender or non-binary person suffering a violent death this year—the actual number is likely higher, as many of these deaths go unreported or victims of anti-trans violence are misgendered in reports. 

Trans Americans face an elevated risk of gun violence. This International Transgender Day of Visibility, we’re urging our legislators and community members to finally confront this threat. 

International Transgender Day of Visibility, created in 2010 by Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, aims to celebrate transgender and non-binary people globally. It is also a day to raise awareness about violence and discrimination these groups face.

On this Trans Day of Visibility, we honor Diamond’s life and the lives of countless other trans victims of gun violence. We also celebrate the existence, strength, and resilience of transgender people globally as we fight for a world free from gun violence.

The Problem

A report released by Giffords Law Center, Everytown, HRC, and Equality Florida in 2020 highlighted how transgender people are at a higher risk of homicide, suicide, and domestic violence. In 2020, three out of four transgender people who were killed died by gun violence. Transgender and non-binary people, particularly Black transgender women, are overwhelmingly impacted by gun violence. 

Transgender people are at an elevated risk of violence due to transphobia and anti-LGBTQ bias, as well as conditions of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness which trans people are more likely to experience. 

Transgender individuals who face discrimination and crippling socioeconomic conditions, particularly Black and Latinx trans women, may end up involved in sex work as a means of survival. Transgender women, especially those who are sex workers, are victimized by both police who wield firearms and emboldened, hate-fueled citizens in their everyday struggle to survive and thrive. 

higher risk of intimate partner homicide
When an abusive partner has access to a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed.


JC Campbell, et al., “Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study,” American Journal of Public Health 93, no.7 (2003): 1089–1097.

Easy firearm access for people with histories of perpetrating domestic violence can prove deadly, especially for transgender people. Nearly half of all trans people responding to the 2015 US Transgender Survey experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, including acts of physical harm. 

Not only are transgender people more likely to experience domestic violence, they may also be at greater risk of death if their partner happens to have a gun. One study found that victims of intimate partner violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun.

Easy access to firearms, weak gun laws, and transphobia are some of the compounding factors that contribute to anti-trans gun violence. We must take steps to address these harms and create a safer nation for the transgender community.

What Can We Do?

There is no one-off solution to solve the gun violence crisis in America or to eliminate transphobia, but implementing commonsense gun violence prevention measures and being a force for positive change in our communities are steps in the right direction.

We can pass laws that prohibit people convicted of violent hate crimes and domestic violence from accessing or acquiring guns. We can also hold law enforcement accountable for perpetrating violence against trans individuals and allocate adequate funds towards healthcare and wellness resources for transgender people. 

Outside of the legislative and policy realm, all of us can look after our transgender community members in many ways. Be a friend or confidante to a trans person in need, redistribute your stimulus check or disposable income to mutual aid efforts, and call out transphobia when you see it. Building a gun violence and hate-free community is a collective effort we must strive toward on Transgender Day of Visibility and beyond.


Over 40,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence every year. In communities, courts, and ballot boxes nationwide, Giffords fights to save lives from gun violence. Will you join us?