Unfortunately, we have the sad news for you that yet another transgender person has died on U.S. soil.
The latest trans victim to violence in America was named Jenna Franks. Franks was found dead in a wooded area near a bike trail within Jacksonville, North Carolina in late-February, according to Jacksonville’s ABC11. Specifically, city street crews found the body when they were clearing a ditch on February 24. Days later, the Jacksonville Police Department deemed Franks’ death a homicide.
“Shock, disbelief … honestly there was a little bit of fear there about what was going on…” Dennis Biancuzzo, director of the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center, told ABC-affiliate WCTI. Baincuzzo described Jenna Franks as “sweet” and “a rockstar” before noting that, “Those people that knew her personally have been grieving.”
Police are currently investigating whether the murder was charged by the fact that Franks was transgender. Meanwhile, the surrounding LGBTQ, and specifically trans, community is fearful.
“How do we defend ourselves?” Biancuzzo asked. “The strongest messages that I have been able to give people is — don’t go anywhere alone, make sure someone is with you when you go somewhere, and be cautious about who is with you in your surroundings.”
Biancuzzo and Jenna’s sister, Amber Franks, are also currently raising funds for the Jenna Franks Interim Housing project in memory of Jenna. The project will offer housing and job training for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness.
“[Jenna] would be so happy to know that she did something to help those who needed help like she did,” said Amber Franks.
Jenna Franks is the latest in a concerning and ongoing list of violence and murders focused on transgender people within America. Last year saw 44 recorded deaths of trans and gender non-confirming people on American soil, and many more incidents are often unreported.
“The fatal violence against transgender and non-binary people we’ve recorded so far this year has been devastating,” said Tori Cooper, the HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement. “Jenna had family, friends and a community who cared about her. Her life was taken far too soon. Homelessness is already high in trans communities, and is exacerbated by additional factors, such as the denial of job opportunities. These risk factors compound to create anti-trans stigma, which can often lead to violence. Everyone, from community organizers to those in government, needs to come together to implement lasting changes to support transgender and non-binary people.”