Police have launched a “manhunt” after a Black trans woman was shot dead in a car as an “epidemic of violence” tightens its hold on the US.
Miia Love Parker, a model described as a “brilliant light” who loved puppies and Pose, was found shot in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pennslyvania on 1 April.
Friends rushed her to a nearby hospital where she passed away from her injuries, according to CBS Philadelphia.
The City of Chester Police Department said that at around 3:30am, Parker was shot in a vehicle parked on the 1900 block of Chestnut Street in Delaware County.
Officers identified 38-year-old Saad Najeed Dwight as a suspect. He is considered armed and dangerous by the authorities.
While his motivation for the killing remains unknown at the time of writing, he faces a lengthy rap sheet with charges including criminal homicide, third-degree murder, and possession of a firearm not to be carried without a license.
Parker’s funeral was held 8 April to celebrate her life.
Miia Love Parker’s ‘light was extinguished far too soon’, says activist
To those who knew her, Miaa Love Parker was someone who enjoyed her days studying at Temple University and leafing through the glossy pages of fashion magazines.
But now, Parker has become a daunting reminder of the year-on-year surge in transphobic violence in the US.
Parker is “at least” the 10th trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person violently killed this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT+ rights group that has tracked the spate of killings since 2013.
The true death toll can be difficult to grasp, the HRC warn, given that so many victims of transphobic violence are misgendered and deadnamed in local news and police reports – Parker was among them.
Even as trans Americans have grasped some political victories under the Biden administration, from the first openly trans, Senate-confirmed federal official to national protections, violence against the community has continued to soar.
There are many reasons why trans people face such elevated risks in their lives. In Pennsylvania, for example, trans residents have little state protection when it comes to being discriminated against in employment, housing, education and public spaces.
The problems, however, do not end there. Trans people face higher levels of homelessness, poverty and violence – three-fourths of trans homicides have involved a gun, according to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker.
The annual murder rate for Americans aged between 15 and 34 is one in 12,000, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
For Black trans women in the exact same age group, the rate rockets to one in 2,600, an investigation by Mic found.
If in 2015 all Americans had the same risk of murder as Black trans women, there would have been 120,087 killed instead of 15,696.
“Friends remember Miia Love Parker as a brilliant light that brought joy into every room she entered,” Tori Cooper, the HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, told PinkNews.
“That light was extinguished far too soon. Her death is the second known in the state of Pennsylvania just this year and one of too many that have happened around the country.
“We must honour her light by continuing the fight for justice and protection of our community.”
The community has mourned across 2022: Amariey Lej, Duval Princess, Cypress Ramos, Naomie Skinner, Matthew Angelo Spampinato, Paloma Vazquez, Tatiana Labelle and Kathryn ‘Katie’ Newhouse and Kenyatta Webster.