Black Transgender Woman Shot to Death Near Kansas City

Aerrion Burnett
Police have not yet made any arrests more than a week after a Black transgender woman, Aerrion Burnett, was found dead near Kansas City, Missouri.

A 37-year-old Black transgender woman was found shot to death on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, on September 19, just months after another Black transgender woman, Nina Pop, was killed in her own apartment on the other side of the state.

Aerrion Burnett’s body was found shortly before 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning in a grassy area near the intersection of East 13th Street and Brookside Avenue in Independence, Missouri, which is just a few miles east of Kansas City. Independence Police are treating the case as a homicide, though a police spokesperson told Gay City News that investigators have yet to make progress in the case.

“We don’t have anything new,” the police spokesperson said. “A detective is working non-stop on this one. It’s rare for us to have an unsolved homicide.”

Police misgendered and deadnamed Burnett in social media posts — and even when they admitted to initially providing the wrong name, authorities again deadnamed Burnett. A similar situation unfolded after Pop was stabbed to death in May: Officers in Sikeston, Missouri, deadnamed Pop at first and again referred to her dead name when mentioning the name with which she identified.

Detectives said Burnett was in contact with family members up until 4 p.m. on Friday, September 18, approximately 12 hours before her body was found. Burnett’s family and friends reflected on Burnett’s life and issued calls for justice in a case that now has gone more than a week without any arrests.

“She was a goddess,” said Burnett’s friend, Korea Kelly, according to the Human Rights Campaign. “If you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.” 

An unnamed cousin of Burnett was also quoted by the Human Rights Campaign, saying, “Stop taking our lives. Lives matter. You can’t get them back, and it hurts so many people.”

Burnett joins more than two dozen known transgender individuals who have suffered violent deaths in the United States this year alone, and most of those victims have been transgender women of color. 

The trans community in Missouri already endured tragedy this year when Pop, 28, was stabbed to death in her own apartment in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. Twelve days later, authorities arrested 40-year-old Joseph B. Cannon on charges of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. 

Police in that case announced that “several people came forth” to offer information that led to an arrest, but cops in Independence told Gay City News that they have not received the influx of tips they usually get in other cases in the area.

To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit