Activist Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien was found dead in her home in Massachusetts on Friday, becoming the first known trans woman to die by violence in 2018. Her husband, Mark Steele-Knudslien, turned himself in to police, admitting he murdered his wife in an argument.
CBS News reports that Steele-Knudslien is being held without bail, and was arraigned on Monday, where he pled not guilty despite his confession. He is accused of hitting his wife with a hammer and stabbing her to death. He allegedly told investigators that he “snapped” during an argument because she was “always belittling him.” According to the Berkshire Eagle, police have been called to the couple’s residence a number of time in the past for “neighborhood” issues.
Christa Steele-Knudslien was an advocate for transgender rights and visibility. She helped to launch the first New England Trans Pride over ten years ago and the Miss Trans New England Pageant:
Another longtime friend, Justin Adkins, said, “Her thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful.”
According to Human Rights Campain, in a report compiled with the Trans People of Color Coalition, 2017 was named the deadliest year for transgender people on record, especially trans women of color.