Virginia’s LGBTQ community is mourning the death of Chae’Meshia Simms, a Black transgender woman who was shot on Nov. 23 in Richmond at around 6 a.m.
According to local news reports, first responders were called to Cheatwood Avenue in the city’s Washington Park neighborhood after receiving reports of a car crash. They found Simms’ body in the driver’s seat, killed from an apparent gunshot wound.
The Richmond Police Department sent the Washington Blade a press release that confirmed the details of Simms’ murder. The statement said detectives continue to investigate her death and ask anyone with information to call Major Crimes Det. M. Godwin at (804) 646-5533 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.
Simms’ death came three days after National Transgender Day of Remembrance, in a year where violence against trans people has risen sharply.
According to a statement by the Human Rights Campaign, Simms death is the 39th violent death of a trans or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S, which is more than any previously recorded year.
“We are continuing to see a devastating rate of violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, especially against Black and Brown trans women, and it must be stopped,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative. “It takes all of us to speak up and take action to end this violence.”
Simms’ family and friends gathered Friday evening for a vigil to commemorate her life. Her father described her as a “well-loved individual” during the gathering.
“This is going to make us all a little bit stronger,” he told local reporters about his daughter’s death. “We’re going to find out the reasoning behind it, so we can have closure as a family.”