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Black Trans Woman Aerrion Burnett Found Shot to Death in Missouri

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 30, 2020

Aerrion Burnett
Aerrion Burnett  (Source:Aerrion Burnett/Facebook)

Aerrion Burnett, a 37-year-old Black trans woman, was found shot to death in the early morning hours of Sept. 19 at a roadside in Independence, Missouri, reports local news station KMBC.

The body of Burnett, who lived in Kansas City, Missouri, was discovered by police in Independence who were responding to a call a little past 3:30 a.m. Her death brought the tally of trans women known to have died violently this year in America to 28, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks lethal anti-trans violence.

Underscoring the prevalence of deadly violence directed at the trans community - and especially trans women of color - a friend of Burnett, Korea Kelly, told CBA affiliate KCTV that Burnett was the second of her friends to have been murdered.

"As a friend, and both of those are my friends who both got killed the same way, and being a black trans woman myself, that hurts like hell," she said.

Kelly spoke with the media during a memorial gathering held in Independence the day after Burnett's body was discovered. She asked the question: "When is the senseless violence to Black trans women in Kansas City going to stop?"

The HRC's Tori Cooper expressed sympathy and called for action in a news release.

"The number of violent deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people that HRC has tracked this year has now surpassed the number we saw for all of last year," Cooper pointed out.

"We need everyone -- from community organizers to those in the highest levels of our government -- to take action to end this epidemic of violence."

Burnett's death took place a little more than a month after the shooting death of another trans woman of color, Kee Sam, in Lafayette, Louisiana.

"Sam was shot at a hotel on August 12 and was transported to a hospital, where she passed away the next day from her injuries," a news release from the HRC reported. A 16-year-old suspect was arrested in that case.

No suspects have been identified as yet in the shooting that killed Burnett.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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