Trans homicides in the UK: a closer look at the numbers

Transgender individuals who were victims of homicide in the UK in the past decade (2008 – 2017)
Total = 7 (all biological males) 
Homicides committed by transgender individuals in the UK in the past decade (2008 – 2017)
Total = 12 (all biological males)

In this post, the circumstances of each of the homicides of seven trans people in the UK over the past decade are detailed alongside a list of 12 homicides in the same period that were perpetrated by trans people, all of whom were biologically male (ie. males who identify as trans women or who, as cross-dressers, are included under the trans umbrella). It is worth noting here that male trans individuals account for less than 1% of the UK population and it is therefore remarkable that they appear to have been responsible for almost twice the number of homicides as have actually been the victims of homicide. The problem is likely, of course, to be a male pattern of violence that is retained despite transition or cross-dressing; male people commit more homicides than are the victim of homicides. This pattern is reversed in female people where more females are victims of homicide than commit homicide.

For further discussion of the trans homicide rate compared with the rate for the general population over the past decade, see this post.

The cases of trans homicides discussed here are via the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) Project which has collected and analysed reports of homicides of trans and gender-diverse people worldwide since 2008.

The list below differs slightly from the TMM report in that two cases in the UK have been excluded (as they were subsequently revealed not to be homicides), and one homicide that TMM does not (yet) include has been added.

UK homicides of transgender individuals 2008-2017

Total = 7 (all biological males)

2017: 0 (as at November 2017)

2016: 1

  • William Lound, a gay man who sometimes wore stereotypically female clothing, was killed by Lee Arnold, a homeless man with untreated paranoid schizophrenia and problems with substance misuse, in what media reports described as a “homophobic and transphobic murder”. Arnold pleaded guilty to killing Lound and was jailed for life in 2016. This homicide is not listed in the latest TMM report, although Lound would be considered trans under the transgender umbrella definition.

2015: 1

  • Vanessa Santillan was killed by partner Joaquin Gomez Hernandez who lived off Santillan’s earnings from selling sex. He denied murder and tried to blame one of Santillan’s clients. He was jailed for life in 2015.

2014: 0

2013: 0

2012: 1

  • Chrissie Azzopardi was killed by drug dealer Romy Maynard possibly related to money the victim owed him. Maynard was jailed for life in 2012

2011: 1

  • Lionel/Susie Morl was killed by two acquaintances with substance-misuse issues who stole the victim’s disability benefits & savings. David Hardman admitted killing Morl, and both he and his accomplice Tracy Horrell were jailed for life in 2012.

2010: 1

  • David/Sonia Burgess sometimes wore stereotypically female clothing and presented as a woman, and was killed by Senthooran Kanagasingham, a male who identified as transgender. Kanagasingham, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and jailed for life in 2011.

2009: 2

  • Andrea Waddell was murdered by punter Neil McMillan. He was jailed for life in 2010 and subsequently jailed indefinitely after also being convicted of raping a woman a year earlier.
  • Destiny Lauren was murdered by punter Leon Fyle. He was jailed for life in 2010.

2008: 0

The deaths of two UK trans individuals included in the 2017 TMM report but excluded from the above list (as they are not homicides) are:

  • Vikki Thompson (2015) was presumably included in the TMM total after being listed in this 2016 TMM report but cannot be described as a homicide as Thompson died by suicide. As there are 2 deaths listed for 2015, we must conclude that Thompson’s death is still erroneously being included along with Vanessa Santillan’s for that year.
  • Jacqueline Cowdry (2013) listed in this 2014 TMM report should also not be included as a homicide as (following police investigation/post-mortem) Cowdry’s death was ruled as non-suspicious. However, as no other media reports of a trans homicide can be located for 2013, the inclusion of a homicide for that year indicates Cowdry’s death is still being erroneously included.

There are several commonalities between the circumstances of these homicides which sadly reveal the victims’ proximity to male violence and a complex interplay of factors contributing to marginalisation by society, including mental ill-health, substance misuse and poverty. These commonalities include:

  • Vanessa Santillan, Andrea Waddell and Destiny Lauren all sold sex which brought them into contact with the violent men who killed them. A 2012 report into violence in the sex trade in London revealed that ‘active sex workers were almost 18 times more likely to be murdered than women of similar age and race’
  • Chrissie Azzopardi, Lionel/Suzie Morl and William Lound were killed by a drug dealer and drug users. The Homicide Index reveals around a fifth (22%) of homicide victims were known to be drug users and around 1 in 7 (15%) of perpetrators were known to be drug dealers
  • William Lound and David/Sonia Burgess were both killed by perpetrators who were seriously ill with untreated paranoid schizophrenia, which unfortunately increases an individual’s risk of violence compared with other members of the general population
  • The majority of the victims also belonged to demographic groups known to be at increased risk of violence and hate-crime e.g. Lionel/Suzie Morl and Andrea Waddell were both living with disabilities, William Lound was gay and Destiny Lauren, David/Sonia Burgess and Vanessa Santillan were all trans people of colour.

In common with the vast majority of homicides recorded by the TMM project worldwide, the victims were all males who identified as trans women (or males who sometimes cross-dressed) and were killed by men. If we want to understand why – and therefore hopefully prevent – trans people being killed, we need to look at these commonalities and devise support strategies that address the very real problems these individuals faced.

Below is the list of trans individuals who have been convicted of homicides in the UK over the same period of time – again, all are males who identify as trans women or who cross-dress. All victims were known to their killer and the majority would be classed as domestic violence.

UK homicides perpetrated by transgender individuals 2008-2017

Total = 12 (all biological males)

2016 – Kayleigh-Louise Woods, a male who identifies as a trans woman, tortured and killed Bethany Hills (flatmate)

2016 – Jenny Swift, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed Eric Flanagan (friend/acquaintance)

2015 – Claire Darbyshire, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed Brian Darbyshire (father)

2015 – Graham Cleary-Senior, a male transvestite, killed Frances Cleary-Senior (wife)

2013 – Melissa Young, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed Alan Williamson (neighbour)

2013 – Paris Green, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed Robert Shankland (friend/acquaintance)

2013 – Alan Baker/Alex Stewart, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed John Weir (partner)

2013 – Colin Coats, a male transvestite, tortured and killed Lynda Spence (business associate)

2010 – Christopher Hunnisett*, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed Peter Bick (partner)

2010 – Senthooran Kanagasingham, a male who identifies as a trans woman, killed David/Sonia Burgess (friend/acquaintance)

2010 – Paul Hayhurst, a male transvestite, killed Alexander Toner (partner)

2008  – Gavin Boyd, a male transvestite, killed Vikki McGrand (sister-in-law)

UK attempted homicides perpetrated by transgender individuals 2008-2017

During the same timeframe, several other transgender individuals (again, all males identifying as trans women) have perpetrated extremely violent attacks, prosecuted as attempted murder, where the victims were lucky to survive.

2016 – Lauren Jeska, a male who identifies as a trans woman, attempted to kill UK Athletics official, Ralph Knibbs

2015 – Helen Doe, a male who identifies as a trans woman, had a defence of ‘non-insane automatism‘, accepted by a jury after attempting to kill Kenneth Doe (brother)

2011 – Joanne Latham*, a male who identifies as a trans woman, attempted to kill an unnamed fellow patient at Rampton Secure Hospital (also perpetrated two other attempted murders in 2001 & 2007)

2008 – Alan/Sarah Baker*, a male who identifies as a trans woman, attempted to kill an unnamed fellow prisoner

A list of violence (including sexual violence) against women and children perpetrated by male transgender individuals in the UK is available in this post

*indicates individual transitioned in prison

Further reading: 

Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden

“regarding any crime, male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime.”

Cecilia Dhejne et al, 2011.

In addition, this blog highlights the men (and therefore male pattern violence) responsible for killing transgender individuals worldwide as a companion project to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project.