A black transgender man who bravely drove himself to hospital after he was shot several times in Mississippi has died from his injuries.
Mel Groves, 25, collapsed at the hospital entrance after being shot repeatedly during the attack in the city of Jackson, which is the capital of the southern US state of Mississippi.
The spokesperson for the Jackson Police Department (JPD), Sam Brown, confirmed that the victim collapsed while leaving his vehicle after he drove himself to Merit Health Hospital.
He was then transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where he passed away on the afternoon of Monday 11th October.
Groves is “at least the 39th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person” in 2021 in the United States, according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an organisation that supports LGBT+ rights.
HRC said that it is “mourning” Groves’ death and they added that such deaths often go “unreported – or misreported”.
HRC said in a statement on its website that Groves “was a plant-soil scientist at Alcorn State University who loved agriculture and animals”.
“He shared on his Facebook profile that ‘Life is a gift and so are chances worth taking’.
“Groves was also an active member of The Knights & Orchids Society (TKO), ‘a southern centred grassroots startup founded and led by black, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people supporting gender justice and LGBTQ visibility’.
“On Facebook, TKO shared that Groves was a former TKO youth ambassador, the chosen family of TKO Executive Director Quentin Bell, and a farmer for TKO Society’s garden program.”
HRC also said that “TKO shared that Groves feared for his life as a trans man in Jackson and offered a reward for information related to his death”.
On Facebook, TKO said: “He was murdered. The news outlets are already misgendering Mel and using his old name.
“The motive is unknown, but we know the violence that happens to trans people in our communities. Mel had even shared that he feared for his life because he was trans in Jackson.”
Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said: “Mel Groves had an incredibly bright future, but it was stolen from him well before his time. The loss of such a life is a tragedy for our community and for the world.
“We must work to create a society where trans people, especially black trans people, no longer have to live in fear.”
HRC said that it had recorded 44 deaths in the transgender and gender non-conforming community in 2020, which it said was “more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013”.
The Jackson Police Department is currently investigating the incident, with the HRC saying that they are in the process of “searching for a motive, suspects and the location where Groves was shot”.
HRC said that over 10,000 hate crimes involve a firearm in the United States every year, which they say equates to “more than 28 each day”.