Christa Steele-Knudslien, the founder of the Miss Trans America and Miss Trans New England Pageants, was found dead in her North Adams, Mass. home. Her husband Mark Steele-Knudslien confessed to murdering her during an argument but has entered a not guilty plea since. She is the first transgender woman to be killed in 2018.
According to police reports, Mark Steele-Knudslien went to the Adams Police Department, telling police that he had snapped during their argument, hitting his wife with a hammer several times in the back of the head before stabbing her in the back. He then cleaned himself up before going to the police. The couple had been married since last year.
Christa Steele-Knudslien was heavily involved in the transgender community, advocating for transgender and queer rights in New England.
The deaths of transgender citizens, in particular women, has steadily been on the rise, with 2017 seeing 28 transgender deaths. Most of the crimes are perpetrated by those closest to the victims.
“There is an epidemic of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color who live at the intersection of the toxic combination of transphobia, racism and misogyny,” said Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “When those existing and pernicious prejudices are met with political rhetoric and policies that dehumanize transgender and Black lives, we see the kind of rise in hate-based violence that has occurred over the last few years.”
A GoFundMe has been established to help with funeral expenses for Christa Steele-Knudslien. There are also resources available to members of the LGBT community that may be facing abuse or violence. The Trans Lifeline is available by calling 877-565-8860 or the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s 24-hour hotline at 866-401-2425.