Amid the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, another grim milestone is breaking records in 2020.
"This year, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked the most number of violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people we have ever seen, making 2020 the deadliest year on record," said Tori Cooper, the HRC's director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. The organization has reported 37 deaths this year.
ABC News has independently confirmed 34 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020 at the time of publication. The previous record was in 2017, when, according to a report from the HRC, that number reached 29. However, there's still more than a month left in the year.
- 1October 21, 2020
When estimating the number of deaths in the transgender and gender non-conforming community, the term "at least" is often used because many of these incidents are either unreported or misreported. This could be because some entities misgender victims by using their "deadname" -- the name that a transgender person was given at birth but no longer uses -- which can make it more difficult to account for the deaths.
"This level of violence is heartbreaking and horrifying," said Cooper. "These victims were real people and not one of them deserved to have their life taken from them."
This epidemic has disproportionately affected transgender people of color, especially Black transgender women, who make up two-thirds of the known victims, according to the HRC.
Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3 by an apparent gun shot wound, according to a report released by the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Black worked in the food and restaurant industry, and family members described her as being "a loving, fun-going person."
Betty Spencer-Heck, Black's great-aunt, recalled how she would never miss Thanksgiving, spending time with the family and enjoying a home-cooked meal. Black adored her great-aunt's cooking, according to her family.
"This holiday is gonna be very hard," said Spencer-Heck, who affectionately referred to Black as "Pee-Wee." "This would be the first Thanksgiving without [Black] stopping by."
Spencer-Heck said she calls detectives every once in a while, following up to see if any progress has been made in the investigation, but to no avail.
She also said that the lack of attention to the case could be due to Black already having "strikes" against her for being Black and identifying as transgender, but that she "was somebody's loved one, mine and my family's."
"[Black] was loved … and really, really missed," added Spencer-Heck.
Along with her great-aunt, Black leaves behind her great-grandparents and siblings.
Transgender Awareness Week 2020, which brings awareness to issues impacting the transgender community and culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance, honors the lives of transgender people who were killed by acts of anti-transgender violence.
"Every year on Nov. 20, we recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance and memorialize those we've lost over the previous year," Cooper told ABC News. "This year, the trans community and our allies will come together to remember all of the lives that we've lost, and to rededicate ourselves to ending this violence. As we work to ensure that those we've lost this year are remembered with dignity in death, we will also continue to uplift the resilience and humanity of all transgender and non-binary people."
To mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, "GMA" shares the names and a sliver of the lives of those killed in 2020 to bring awareness to the threat facing the transgender community.
Angel Unique, also reported as Angel Haynes, a 25-year-old transgender woman who worked as a licensed cosmetologist and was from Jackson, Tennessee.
Sara Blackwood, 39, a transgender woman who died on Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Day.
Brooklyn DeShauna Smith, who some reports refer to as Brooklyn Deshauna, a 20-year-old transgender woman who attended Bossier Parish Community College and studied cosmetology, according to a report from the HRC.
Felycya Harris, 33, a transgender woman living in Georgia who worked as an interior decorator and ran her own company, according to the HRC.
Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman in her mid-30s who was studying to become a nurse at Ponce Paramedical College in Puerto Rico, according to HRC reports.
Mia Green, 29, a transgender woman whose friends shared fond memories of her on social media, according to HRC reports.
Aerrion Burnett, 37, a transgender woman originally from Kansas City, Missouri.
Kee Sam, 24, a transgender woman who was a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduated from Northside High School, according to her Facebook profile.
Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, 34, a transgender woman who, according to her Facebook profile, studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and was the owner and founder of International Barbie, a clothing brand based in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Queasha D. Hardy, 22, a transgender woman who worked as a hairstylist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to reports from the HRC.
Dior H. Ova, who some reports refer to as Tiffany Harris, 32, a transgender woman who noted her hometown as Kingston, Jamaica, on her Facebook profile.
Marilyn Cazares, 22, a transgender woman who, according to reports from the HRC, family members and loved ones showed an outpouring of support for on Twitter in her memory.
Summer Taylor, 24, who was non-binary, was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality when killed, according to HRC reports.
Shaki Peters, 32, a transgender woman who was a native of Denham Springs, Louisiana, according to a Facebook post from St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Department.
Merci Mack, 22, a transgender woman who, according to her Facebook profile, worked at a local restaurant and enjoyed baking cookies at home.
Brayla Stone, 17, a transgender teenager who was a native of North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brian "Egypt" Powers, 43, a transgender person who worked at a local catering company, according to a HRC report.
Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37, a transgender woman who was living in Chicago.
Jayne Thompson, 33, a transgender woman who was a native of Bisbee, Arizona.
Riah Milton, 25, a transgender woman who worked as a home health aide, according to her Facebook profile.
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, 27, a transgender woman who was a native of York, Pennsylvania.
Tony McDade, 38, a transgender man who used the nickname "Tony the Tiger" with friends, according to the HRC.
Helle Jae O'Regan, 20, a transgender woman who, according to HRC, spoke out on Twitter against injustice, including LGBTQ+ inequality and the prison industrial complex.
Nina Pop, 28, a transgender woman who received an outpouring of love on her Facebook profile from family and friends, according to the HRC.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, a transgender woman who was living in Puerto Rico at the time of her death.
Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, a transgender woman who was living in the Tejas neighborhood in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, according to the HRC.
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, a transgender woman who created a YouTube channel, according to the HRC.
Johanna Metzger, 25, a transgender woman from Pennsylvania.
Lexi, 33, a transgender woman who lived in New York.
Monika Diamond, 34, a transgender woman who, according to HRC, spent her adult life creating community and spaces for LGBTQ+ people in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, a transgender man who, according to HRC, shared his love for basketball on social media.
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also know as Alexa, a transgender woman who lived in Puerto Rico.
Dustin Parker, 25, a transgender man who was a prominent member of the LGBTQ+ community in McAlester, Oklahoma, and founded the city's Southeastern Equality group, which provides resources for LGTBQ individuals and their families.
ABC News' Erin M. Calabrese contributed to this report.