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Gun safety organizations draw attention to death of transgender teen in Mobile

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action attributed a Mobile teenager’s death to anti-transgender bigotry and easy access to guns.

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On May 24, Alabama Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued a joint statement on the death of Mobile teenager Tayy Dior Thomas. 

A Black, transgender 17-year-old, Thomas was shot and killed on May 7, in what her family are trying to have classified as a hate crime. The family is currently running a GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses. The primary suspect, Carl Washington Jr., was identified by the Thomas family as someone who Tayy Dior had been dating.

Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for the transgender rights campaign said that “so far, in 2024, nearly half of all victims of fatal violence with a known killer were killed by a romantic or sexual partner, friend, or family member.”

“Trans people should be able to trust that the people in their lives will help protect them from this violence, not cause it,” she continued.

Alabama Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action pointed to the role of easy access to firearms in facilitating Thomas’ death in their joint statement.

The executive director of Moms Demand Action, Angela Ferrell-Zabala, said that “Tayy was robbed of a beautiful future by a person armed with hate and easy access to a gun.”

Makayla Jordan, an Alabama Students Demand Action volunteer leader, called gun violence prevention “a transgender rights issue, period.” Jordan also stated that “gun violence rooted in hate continues to take the lives of trans youth every year – especially Black trans women.”

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On March 31, which has been International Transgender Day of Visibility since 2009, President Biden said that an epidemic of violence against transgender women and girls, especially women and girls of color, continues to take too many lives. Let me be clear: All of these attacks are un-American and must end. No one should have to be brave just to be themselves.

Because Transgender Day of Visibility happened to fall on the same day as Easter this year, the Alabama Republican Party called for the White House to apologize to Christians for recognizing the holiday.

Thomas’ death comes after Alabama’s state legislature has passed significant bills discriminating against transgender individuals in recent years.

As APR has reported on, a ban on gender-affirming care is currently in effect in Alabama as a legal challenge works its way through the court system. The ban, signed into law by Gov. Ivey in 2022, restricts people under 19 from accessing puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, which are essential medical care for many transgender people.

Passed and signed into law this year, SB129, in addition to banning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, requires Alabama colleges “ensure that every multiple occupancy restroom be designated for use by individuals based on their biological sex.”

Because of these and related laws, Alabama received a High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality rating on the Human Rights Campaigns 2023 State Equality Index.

Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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