Black transgender man EJ Boykin, who also went by the name Novaa Watson, has died of a gunshot wound.
Boykin, 23, was shot June 14 in Lynchburg, Va. He was found in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store about 6 p.m. that day and was taken to a local hospital, where he died soon afterward, Lynchburg paper The News & Advance reports.
Police are investigating Boykin’s death as a homicide, and they are still searching for a suspect. They said they do not believe the shooting was a hate crime and think it may have been related to a domestic dispute. A child was at the scene and was not harmed.
Torri Chippe, a longtime friend of Boykin’s, told the paper that “he was loved and liked by everyone. He was one of those people that was just good vibes and energy.”
Boykin is at least the 29th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year. Last year set a record with 44 such deaths, and 2021 is on track to surpass that. There are undoubtedly many deaths that are unreported, or victims deadnamed or misgendered by police or media.
“EJ’s death marks the fifth trans man killed this year, and yet another death of a Black trans person,” said a statement from Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative. “The level of fatal violence we’ve recorded this year is higher than we’ve ever seen. All of these individuals deserved to live. We must strike at the roots of racism and transphobia, and continue to work toward justice and equality for trans and gender-nonconforming people.”
Police ask that anyone with information call the department at (434) 455-6160 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900.