A 22-year-old black transgender woman became the thirteenth trans person to be murdered in America this year after she was shot near her D.C. home on July 4.
Deeniquia Dodds, known to her family and friends as DeeDee, died Wednesday after nine days on life support, the Washington Blade reported. Dodds was shot in the neck in the early hours of July 4, just a few blocks away from the house where she lived with her family. Dodds "loved to make you laugh. Loved to make you smile," JoeAnn Lewis, who raised her, told NBC 4 Washington.
Police are not investigating Dodds' murder as a hate crime, they told the local news station. "We have no information to suggest the crime was motivated by hate, at this point," said Dustin Sternbeck, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department. The police department put out an appeal for information to help find the killer on Thursday:
On Monday, July 4, 2016 at approximately 2:55 am, Mr. Gregory Dodds (AKA Ms. Deeniquia Dodds) was shot in the 200 block of Division Avenue, NE. Ms. Dodds succumbed to her injuries on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. The Metropolitan Police Department seeks the public’s assistance in gathering information regarding this homicide.
Advocates criticized the department for dead naming Dodds (using her birth name and not the one she identified with) and for not disclosing information about the shooting until her death nine days after the shooting. HIPS, a local advocacy group, issued a statement Thursday saying that police could have endangered other transgender peoples' lives by not disclosing that the attack had happened while Dodds' killer is still at large:
Yesterday, Dee Dee Dodds, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, died from gunshot wounds she received the morning of July 4. It was not until yesterday that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) publicly released information about this shooting, citing “privacy rights” of the individual. The shooter is still at large.
MPD’s failure to publically disclose information about Dodds’ case highlights a deeply troubling lack of concern for the lives of people who are transgender. As Ms. Earline Budd, transgender activist and HIPS treatment adherence specialist , emphasized in her statement in the Washington Blade, releasing information about shootings is a necessary step in working to ensure that further violence against transgender individuals is not committed.
But another activist, Earline Budd, who has been in contact with Dodds' family, told the Washington Blade that police had held off on identifying Dodds by name and as a trans woman because her family initially requested them to, fearing repercussions since her killer hasn't been found.
“The LGBTQ community encourages everyone to participate and show solidarity against hatred and violence,” Budd said in a statement to reporters. "The transgender community and other local LGBTQ organizations joins the Dodds family and friends in mourning this senseless loss.”
A recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that an estimated 2.77% of D.C.'s adult population identifies as transgender, the highest percentage of trans people of any state in the country and much higher than the national average of 0.6%. Trans people in D.C. have specific laws preventing discrimination against them, overseen by the district's Office of Human Rights.
The Metropolitan Police Department lists six transgender victims of homicide since 2002 in D.C., including Dodds. Just this year at least 13 trans people have been killed nationally, according to the Human Rights Campaign, though the real number is likely higher because police frequently dead name and mis-gender trans victims.
"Over 90 percent of the victims are people of color and over three quarters are women. HRC’s own tracking shows that 59 percent of known transgender homicide victims in the United States since 2013 have died as a result of gun violence," HRC wrote on their website.
Dodds' death is the latest incident in what some LGBTQ advocates describe as an epidemic of hate violence that has had a devastating effect on trans people of color, who accounted for 19 out of 22 trans people murdered last year, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects. And of 24 LGBTQ people in total who were murdered in the U.S. last year, by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs's count, half were black.
Correction: This post originally stated Deeniquia Dodds was the fifteenth trans person to have been killed in the United States in 2016. She is the thirteenth.