Black trans woman and North Carolina native, Jazz Alford was found dead in her motel room in Birmingham, Alabama in late September with initial police and media reports misgendering her. She’s the 22nd trans person killed this year, which is quickly catching up to last year’s death toll of 23 reported deaths of trans people — the majority of which were Black trans women.
Alford’s sister Toya Milan, who is also transgender, told AL.com Alford was a loving person and “didn’t know anybody that would want to hurt her.”
“Her death was a huge hit for the LGBT community,” Milan told AL.com. “There was another transgender [person] shot multiple times somewhere else recently. People think [transgender people] are monsters, when really we just want to be accepted.”
On Wednesday, police arrested 23-year-old Denzell Thomas for shooting another trans woman during a home invasion and robbery on Monday. He’s now a suspect in Alford’s death. The woman was shot in the face but survived and is recovering at UAB hospital.
According to Mic, Birmingham Police Department’s homicide division knew Alford was transgender, and didn’t reveal what they knew due to “case sensitivity.” And AL.com reporter Carol Robinson didn’t know Alford was trans until Alford’s sister emailed her.
Alford’s coworkers remembered her on Facebook.
“She was a lovely, beautiful person. Always kind and smiling,” Alyssa Huggins recalled. “What a tragedy.”
Another former coworker, Sherri Johnson Pilson, shared that Alford was always quick to cover a shift.
“Whenever I needed Sundays off for church, Jazz would always cover me and say, ‘pray for me too chile!’” Pilson wrote. “Such a sweet person.”