More heartbreaking news, this time from Gaithersburg, Maryland where 21-year-old Zella Ziona became the 22nd transgender woman to be murdered in the US during 2015.
A witness told ABC7 he saw the victim, identified as Zella Ziona of Montgomery Village, surrounded by four or five teenagers. There was an argument, then he says one of them pulled out a gun and opened fire. (Note – most of the media coverage uses Zella’s old name as well as male pronouns. )
“I only saw one gun. It just happened so fast, and kind of scary,” he said. “They argued and things happened so fast. I don’t know what they argued for.”
Zella was found by police close to 6 PM on Thursday, October 15. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died from her injuries. Police have not ruled out a possible bias crime, but haven’t established a motive at this point.
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call police at 240-773-5070. A reward of as much as $10,000 is offered. Tips also can be submitted by calling 1-866-411-TIPS.
You will see varying numbers with regard to how many people have been murdered – from 20 to 23 and beyond. There’s no denying, however, the reality that the epidemic of violence continues and there seems to be no end in sight. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs:
“In 2015 we have witnessed the highest homicide rate of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. ever recorded by NCAVP, and we mourn this tragic, senseless loss of life,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “This is a state of emergency for our communities, and we cannot continue to witness this violence without every one of us committing to taking action to end it.”
For perspective, in 2014, 13 transgender women were killed in the U.S. — all but two of whom were black or Latina. Among the reported murders this year, 18 have been trans women of color. And once again, we have misgendering by the police and the media in the initial reports. We have calls for something to be done. And we’ll likely have more silence as we try to sort that out. Perhaps we need to hear from the Justice Department about this epidemic?
Rest in power, Zella. Your beautiful light clearly brought so much joy to your friends and family. Their sorrow, grief and love are wrapping your sisters in a fierce determination to end this epidemic.