The family and friends of 16-year-old Kendarie Johnson are still searching for answers after his body was found, shot to death, in an alley in Burlington, Iowa, where the teen lived with his mother. Those who knew Kendarie described both his sexual orientation and gender identity as fluid, saying that although he mostly presented as male, he sometimes wore hair extensions and went by a feminine name, and he expressed interest in people of different genders. It isn’t clear yet as to whether his sexual orientation, gender identity or expression were factors in his death.
Kendarie’s death is one in a series of violent deaths suffered recently by members of the LGBTQ community. In addition to the killings of Monica Loera, Maya Young and Demarkis Stansberry, advocates and community members have recently learned of the death of Jasmine Sierra, a transgender woman of color who was found dead on January 22, but was misgendered in early reports.
Violence claimed at least 21 transgender victims in the U.S. last year, the vast majority of whom were transgender women of color.
Kendarie’s death also highlights the vulnerability of LGBTQ youth, who often face bullying, harassment and even violence from peers and adults. Bisexual Alabama teen Nick Hawkins was killed on February 13 on his way home from a beauty pageant, after telling his mom, “Someone is trying to kill me.” Six individuals have been charged in his death.
For more information on addressing anti-transgender violence, visit hrc.org/trans-violence.
For more information on addressing bullying and supporting LGBTQ youth, visit www.welcomingschools.org.