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Family seeks justice for transgender woman killed in southside shooting

Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 11:15 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2016 at 2:00 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Family and friends are seeking justice while they remember the life of Noony Norwood. Norwood was born with the name William, but known as Ms. Noony Norwood.

"William grew into Ms. Noony Norwood and was accepted," said Janet Wright, Noony's aunt.

Just days after her 30th birthday, Norwood was shot in the 2700 block of Hull Street, and died in the hospital the next day.

"She was a wonderful person, and they took somebody great from us, seriously," she said.

While Wright and Norwood were not related by blood, Wright says they may as well have been, as they were a part of a close knit community.

"I just want people to know that, that was a beautiful person truly, would give you anything," explained Wright."Would help anybody without even a second thought."

For Zakia McKensey founder of the Nationz Foundation, Norwood's death hits hard. She also considers her family, guiding her through her journey as a transgender woman.

"A lot of people just think we're street walkers and we don't have the same aspirations and goals as everybody else, and that's not the case," said McKensey.

McKensey says it can be difficult for people in the LGBT community to truly feel comfortable being themselves, but that wasn't the case for Norwood.

"Noony was living her life in her authentic self," she said.

Through the guidance and support of friends and family, they say Noony spent her days bringing love to everyone she encountered.

Richmond Police are continuing to investigate her death and have released a photo of a person of interest in the case. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project says Norwood's death is the 23rd reported killing of a transgender/gender non-conforming person in 2016.

The organization also released the following statement about her killing:

On November 6th, the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP) learned that 30-year-old Richmond, VA, resident Noony Norwood was killed on the southside of Richmond. Noony, who identified as a transgender woman of color, was shot on Saturday, November 5th and died the next morning. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project would like to express its sincerest condolences to Noony's family, friends, and community. VAVP is deeply saddened to hear of another homicide of someone who identifies within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

'Noony's energy always brightened the room. She cared about her community and always lifted up and supported her friends and family', said Zakia McKensey, Founder and Executive Director of Nationz Foundation and long-time friend of Noony's. Stacie Vecchietti, Director of the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, added, 'We have lost yet another beloved member of our community to violence. This is a deeply painful and personal loss for many. It is also a reflection of the painful realities of transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, and racism that permeate our everyday environments and relationships and results in LGBTQ+ individuals of color being disproportionately impacted by violence.'

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' (NCAVP) 2015 report on Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities was released in June of 2016 and documented 1,253 incidents of hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people from 13 local NCAVP member organizations in 11 states. The homicide of Noony Norwood is the 23rd reported killing of a transgender/gender non-conforming person NCAVP has responded to in 2016. Continuing an alarming multi-year trend, people of color and transgender and gender non-conforming people continue to make up the majority of victims of hate violence.

While there is still an active investigation happening into the shooting of Noony Norwood, we absolutely do know that perceived and actual gender identity and race often play a role in escalating violence against LGBTQ+-identified individuals. VAVP hopes that throughout the investigative process, the media, police, and the public at-large, will respect Noony's identity and maintain a level of decorum and understanding when interacting with her family and other individuals who identify within transgender and non-conforming communities. VAVP will continue to stand in solidarity with the family and community of Noony and other LGBTQ+ individuals that have been impacted by violence.

VAVP's community partner, Nationz Foundation, offers a weekly support group for trans women, TGURLZ ROCK, on Thursday evenings in their office at 1200 Bentley St. Richmond, VA 23227. The group is open to anyone that identifies as a trans woman and provides a welcoming space for members to support each other and celebrate their identities. To get connected to Nationz Foundation, please call (804) 716-7597.

The Virginia Anti-Violence Project works to address and prevent violence within and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities across Virginia. VAVP offers services for survivors of intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as hate/bias motivated harassment and violence. VAVP also has resources to support training and consultation with agencies, community groups, congregations, and other interested organizations. For more information on the Virginia Anti-Violence Project, visit virginiaavp.org, email director@virginiaavp.org, or call (804) 925-9242.

If you are LGBTQ+-identified and you have been impacted by violence, you can contact the Virginia LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline via text at (804) 793-9999 or by phone at 1-866-356-6998.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

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