A beloved Canadian transgender activist who worked to raise awareness of violence and discrimination against those in the trans community was murdered this week in Toronto, Canada’s The Globe and Mail reported.
Julie Berman was found by Toronto police on Sunday afternoon with serious head injuries from an assault at a residence in The Annex, a lively neighborhood in downtown Toronto.
Police transported her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Berman was 51.
Berman, who worked as a hairdresser, was involved for almost 30 years with community events at The 519, a City of Toronto organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights and provides services for the community.
“It’s really heartbreaking …She was talking about another close friend who had been murdered,” Davina Hader, a friend of Berman’s and a member of The 519, told The Globe and Mail. “The same thing that she was trying to be vocal about happened to her.”
“She was struggling to survive as we all do,” she added. “It’s very unfortunate, very sad.”
Authorities have charged Colin Harnack, 29, with second-degree murder.
Hader told the paper that Harnack was not known to the LGBT community.
A study published by the Trans PULSE project in 2015 found that 20% of Ontario’s transgender population reported being physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, with 34 percent saying they had been verbally harassed,
In the United States, there were 24 deaths of transgender or gender-nonconforming people due to violence in 2019, according to the Human Rights Commission.