A 32-year-old Black trans woman was shot on December 26 in Indianapolis and, according to friends and family, died from her injuries after being removed from life support in a local hospital in Indianapolis. Her name was Ke’Yahonna Stone.
Around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, police responded to Epic Ultra Lounge parking lot. Friends say that’s where shots rang out, leaving bullet casings littered on the ground. One bullet hit 32-year-old Stone in the head.
Ke’Yahonna had relocated to Chicago where she worked for Amazon as a “picker” According to friends, she had recently accepted a job in her hometown Indianapolis with Trans Solutions Research & Resource Center to expand her advocacy work. Recently means literally last week.
She spent Christmas Night with friends at the club. The circumstances leading up to the shooting, friends say, aren’t clear, only that Stone tried to intervene.
“But, the community is hurting. Ke’Yahonna was loved by the community,” [Marissa] Miller said, “And the community is hurting. Some in the community were standing right there. It wasn’t they got the call they were the call.”Friend Marissa Miller describing the traumatic impact on the trans and queer community
She is remembered as an activist, a much-loved friend, and as exactly the person who would try to defuse a tense situation.
Compounding the tragedy, Chicago friends say Ke’Yahonna was friends with Eshay Key, a Black trans woman murdered on Christmas Day in 2020.
Media coverage in local outlets has been mixed. Several initial reports used male pronouns, while others used gender neutral references. WISH-TV produced an accurate and robust segment focusing on Ke’Yahonna. The pain of this campaign of terror targeting the trans community is exacerbated by the constant need to educate the media and clarify these details.
Ke’Yahonna is the fifty-first trans, nonbinary or gender nonconforming person reported killed in 2021. Forty-five of these neighbors have been BIPOC. She is the 35th victim who identified as Black. 30 of these victims were under the age of 30. We say ‘that we know of’, as many deaths go unreported or unacknowledged. 2021 is now the most violent year on record for our trans neighbors in the United States, surpassing the previous total of 44 deaths in 2020.
51 trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors and there’s still several days to go in the year. Four neighbors from my own region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I’m just so sad. I’m also grateful that her friends jumped into the narrative. All reporting has mentioned that she was a trans woman. There’s room to tease out the distinction between a hate crime based on gender identity and the intersectional identities that create this campaign of terror.
Police are still investigating. Final arrangements have not been announced yet.
Rest in power, Ke’Yahonna. You deserved so many more years and experiences. Thank you for your contributions to the community and for literally sacrificing your life in your final moments. I am deeply sorry for our collective failure to create a safer world for you.
May your memory be a revolution.
Our list of transgender, gender, and non-binary neighbors lost to violence in 2021. Please do not copy or share this list without attribution.
We are also still monitoring these suspicious deaths from 20/21 (in addition to the 44 documented killings.)
Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong — Lithonia, Georgia, November 11, 2020. Age 39
Kimberely Patricia Cope — Athens, Georgia, December 27, 2020. Age 40.
Natasha Keianna — Detroit, Michigan, January 12, 2021. Age 37.
Bonaire ‘Bonnie’ Black — Atlanta, Georgia, December 31, 2020. Age 19.
Koko Nia Labeija — Chicago, Illinois, Found June 2020, Identified April 2021, Age 19
Haven Bailey — Villa Park, Illinois, May 24, 2021. Age 25