Black Trans Woman Shai Vanderpump, 23, Murdered in New Jersey

Sue Kerr
4 min readAug 4, 2021
Photo of Black trans woman wearing a gold necklace
Shai Vanderpump via Faceboo

Note — my blog at pghlesbian.com is migrating to a new server so I cannot add new content. All of these posts will be added when the work is complete — Sue

23-year-old Shai Vanderpump was shot in the face early in the morning at Friday, July 30, 2021 in the West Ward of Trenton, New Jersey. Police arrested a 36-year-old man and have charged him with murder.

From NJ.com

Trenton police officers responding to a reporting shooting at a house on Kelsey Avenue found Loftin shot in the face at about 4:40 a.m.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office did not elaborate on any suspected motives in the slaying, but said detectives are investigating any potential bias motivations. Loftin was a transgender woman, the office said.

The prosecutor’s Homicide Task Force searched the Kelsey Avenue residence with a warrant later Friday, and detectives identified Smith as the suspect after speaking with witnesses and reviewing surveillance footage from the area, the office said in a statement.

It is heartening to see such a quick arrest and a police department not ruling out a bias crime. That’s not typical.

According to her social media accounts, Shai was a fun-loving friend who ardently defended transgender identities. Her family says she died protecting a loved one, but there is no more information on that claim.

Shai is the thirty-second trans, nonbinary or gender nonconforming person reported killed in 2021. Thirty of these neighbors have been BIPOC. She is the 23nd victim who identified as Black. In total, there have been thirty-three murders or suspicious deaths in the first 198 days of 2021, an average of one death every 6.4 days. 21 of these victims were under the age of 30. That we know of as many deaths go unreported or unacknowledged. Note — in this summary, I include suspicious deaths that as you can read below are often later confirmed homicides.

73% of the victims in 2021 have been Black. 66% have been under the age of 30.

We are witnessing the slaughter of our Black trans youth and what are we doing about it? Nothing.

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Sue Kerr

I blog @ pghlesbian.com & tweet @pghlesbian24 GLAAD named us OUTstanding Blog in 2022 & 2019 National Media Awards Also I ❤soaps, cats, dogs & genealogy She/Her