OLYMPIA, Wash. — Under a cold November sun, ladybugs linger on a solitary grave.
“I'm forever broken from this and I want justice for her,” said Hope Schumacher.
Every Friday, Schumacher visits an Olympia cemetery to bring flowers to her daughter’s burial site. Rikkey Outumuro, 39, was a transgender advocate and drag performer also known as "Tru Starlet" to her friends and the local LGBTQ+ community. Last Halloween, Outumuro was shot and killed by her longtime partner.
“I remember Rikkey telling me just a few years back how transgendered women die early in life. They're either murdered or they commit suicide,” said Schumacher. “ And I literally said to my child, ‘Well, that'll never happen to you.' And here we are.”
Statistics from the Human Rights Campaign show in 2020, seven out of 10 transgender murder victims are killed by an acquaintance, family member or intimate partner.
“It was not her time. She was brutally murdered. She was stolen from us. Her life was stolen from herself,” said Schumacher.
Outumuro’s murder comes at a time when violent crime against the transgender community has hit an all-time high. FBI data shows violent crime against the transgender community has increased 40% from 2019 to 2020.
Trans women of color, like Outumuro, experience the highest levels of violence, according to the human rights campaign.
“We have to do everything we can to cut these numbers down and they matter. We need to start recognizing that they are people,” said Schumacher.
A year since her murder, Outumuro’s legacy as a trans advocate in the Centralia and Olympia communities hasn’t faded. Anonymous flowers and gifts have consistently shown up at Rikkey’s grave since.
“She made sure that pride got to walk in the Fourth of July parade. She did the very first gay pride, which was in 2021, in the Centralia area,” said Schumacher. “She put a panel together and went to the Centralia Police Department to educate them on the pride community that was moving in. She was just a trailblazer.”
Ahead of the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, Outumuro’s family hopes her life and sudden death will serve as a reminder to other parents.
“This life is hard. And there is no one that would choose this for themselves," said Schumacher. "Love your children. Love them for who they are. I don’t want anyone else to go through this.”
Outumuro’s partner, Cristopher Allen Gaudreau, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in this case. He’ll be sentenced at the Lewis County courthouse Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. Outumuro’s mother hopes the community shows up to demand justice for her daughter and ask for the maximum sentence.