On July 2nd, the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP) learned that 28-year-old Lynchburg, VA, resident Ebony Morgan was found dead on Rivermont Ave in the city. Ebony, who identified as a transgender woman of color, was shot and died early Sunday morning at Lynchburg General Hospital. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project would like to express its sincerest condolences to Ebony’s family, friends, and community. VAVP is deeply saddened to hear of another homicide of someone who identifies within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.
Zakia McKensey, Transgender Community Advocate at VAVP and the Founder/Executive Director of Nationz Foundation, said, “These murders of transgender women of color is senseless and needs to stop. We are people just like everyone else with the same wants and desires and we deserve respect, acceptance, understanding, and inclusiveness. Prayers go out to Ebony’s family and loved ones.” Andi Miller of the Lynchburg Diversity Center added, “Losing another trans woman of color to violence is disturbing. Having lost a member of the Lynchburg community sheds a light on the need to address transphobia, homophobia, and racism. Discrimination often leaves trans women of color without jobs and living in dangerous situations. This is a difficult time for the LGBTQ+ community of Lynchburg and we are offering support and comfort to those in need. Our deepest condolences go out to Ebony’s family and friends.”
While there is still an active investigation happening into the shooting of Ebony Morgan, perceived and actual gender identity and race often play a role in escalating violence against LGBTQ+-identified individuals. VAVP hopes that throughout the investigative process, the media, police, and the public at-large, will respect Ebony’s identity and maintain a level of decorum and understanding when interacting with her family and other individuals who identify within transgender and non-conforming communities. VAVP will continue to stand in solidarity with the family and community of Ebony and other LGBTQ+ individuals that have been impacted by violence.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Project’s (NCAVP) most recent hate violence report, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2016, recorded 77 total hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in 2016, including the 49 mostly LGBTQ and Latinx lives lost in the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June of 2016. Outside of those lives lost during the shooting at Pulse Nightclub, there were 28 homicides of LGBTQ people, an increase of 17% from 24 in 2015. Of the 28 reported non-Pulse hate violence homicides, 79% were people of color, 19 were transgender and gender non-conforming people, and 17 were transgender women of color.
VAVP’s community partners, the Lynchburg Transgender Alliance and the Lynchburg Diversity Center, are hosting a community meeting that had been pre-scheduled for Wednesday, July 5th, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at 901 Jefferson street, Suite 201, Lynchburg, VA. This meeting will be an opportunity for community members to gather together to honor the life of Ebony and discuss the impact of her loss on community. VAVP advocates will be available before and during the meeting, in-person, to provide information and support.
The Virginia Anti-Violence Project works to address and prevent violence within and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities across Virginia. VAVP offers services for survivors of intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as hate/bias motivated harassment and violence. VAVP also has resources to support training and consultation with agencies, community groups, congregations, and other interested organizations. For more information on the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, visit virginiaavp.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (804) 925-9242.
If you are LGBTQ+-identified and you have been impacted by violence, you can contact the Virginia LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline via text at (804) 793-9999 or by phone at 1-866-356-6998.