Kylie Monali was a 41-year-old trans woman who, according to news sources, was killed in prison by her cellmate on September 7, 2022. Monali’s death was one of 40 violent killings of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go misreported — or unreported.
“Although we are deeply saddened by Kylie’s death, we choose to find comfort in knowing that her killer is being held responsible for his heinous actions. Far too often trans people are treated as though our lives don’t matter and it’s the queer community’s duty to stand up in the face of injustice for trans people everywhere. We must uplift Kylie’s life and demand justice for her death,” said Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
Kylie’s parents are suing the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, alleging failures by several of its leaders and deputies allowed her to be killed by her cellmate. The suit states that the department acted negligently and in violation of both U.S. Constitution and state laws by allowing Kylie to be housed in a cell with a convicted sex offender who had a history of violent behavior. The suit states that sheriff’s personnel knew Kylie’s cellmate posed an imminent threat to Kylie, who was particularly vulnerable because she was transgender and HIV-positive, and yet the sheriff’s department allowed the two to be housed together at the Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. The suspect in Kylie’s death faces additional homicide charges, and remains in custody.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Kylie was misgendered in some media and police reports. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in California are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. California does include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. During the most recent legislative session, more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were under consideration in state legislatures across the country, over 200 of which directly targeted transgender people. As of this writing, over 80 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law – more than any other year on record.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.