Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, founder of the Miss Trans America pageant and a transgender activist, was found stabbed and beaten in her North Adams, Massachusetts home on Friday. She was 42 years- old.
According to the autopsy report, Christa Leigh suffered from blunt force trauma to her head and a stab wound on her torso. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide.
MassLive.com reports that her husband Mark Steele-Knudslien went to the Adams Police Department headquarters on Friday and told police he had done “something very bad.” According to reports, he says he and his wife got into an argument and he “snapped,” stabbing her with a knife and hitting her with a hammer. He was charged with murder on Friday and pleaded not guilty to the charge on Monday. He is currently being held in the Berkshire County Jail without bail.
GLAAD reports that Christa Leigh is the first known transgender person to be murdered this year.
Christa Leigh was a well-established transgender activist. In addition to founding the Miss Trans America pageant, she also helped to launch the Miss Trans New England pageant. The New York Post reports she also was one of the organizers of the first New England Trans Pride event.