DETROIT, Mich. - According to statistics from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a transgender minority is by far the most at-risk population when it comes to being a victim of violence.
Fox 2 became aware of Metro Detroit's most recent victim, 20 year-old Amber Monroe, when a well-known LGBT activist tweeted about her murder Saturday afternoon.
"Orange is the New Black" co-star Laverne Cox retweeted "Heart BREAKING news; the 12th Trans Woman of Color to be lynched this year was found this morning in Detroit MI. THis murder is so tragic because she was barely 20 years old; a far cray from 66 years old #KCHaggard who was lynched in California last week."
Fox 2 looked into it, and confirmed Detroit Police are investigating the homicide of 20 year-old Amber Monroe, but say it wasn't a lynching. Instead, it appears Monroe was shot to death. Very few other details were available from police Saturday night.
Monroe was a 20 year-old last seen in the area of 6 Mile and Woodward - a known place in the transgender community.
"A lot of transgendered women go out there and don't have support systems or employment. So they are forced to do whatever they can do to survive," explains transgender rights activist Julisa Abad, who knew Amber personally.
Detroit Police say Monroe was working as a prostitute when she was found shot to death around 5 a.m. Saturday morning in the same area.
Abad says Monroe was no stranger to violence in the street.
"She's been shot 2 or 3 times. But this time she didn't make it," Abad said. "I've witnessed people pushed out of cars, shot, robbed - not a good environment at all."
And unfortunately, she says it happens far too often within the trans community. Abad describes life on the street as a double-edged sword. Even though you're in harms way, she says, you are there with other transgendered people.
And while there is no magic solution to this problem, one way to make life easier is by promoting and offering resources aimed at preventing at-risk populations from turning to prostitution.
"I'm blessed to have found Cass Community Services," Abad says of the group she now affiliates with. They help with clothes, and a range of other things."
Equality Michigan is another organization offering resources and help for the transgender community, but they say until laws are changed to prevent employers from discrimination, prostitution will remain a big problem.
Please click on the links below if you or someone you know from the LGBT community is in need of assistance.
Statement by Yvonne Siferd, Director of Victim Services for Equality Michigan
“Our hearts are heavy with grief that we have lost another vibrant member of our community too soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Amber’s family and friends whom she clearly loved deeply.
We have no idea yet whether this attack was fueled by transphobia, but we do know that Amber’s murder is the 12th murder of a transgender woman in the United States this year, and the 10th murder of a transgender woman of color. Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by violence.
Her life was just beginning; I know that this loss will leave so many people with a hole in their lives and with more questions than answers. Let’s come together to celebrate her life, and work for real change so that our transgender sisters can be free from persecution. I know we can do better. We have to do better.”