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Utah Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Shooting of Alex Franco, a Transgender Man in Lehi


LEHI, Utah – The Utah chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to the shooting of 21-year-old Alex Franco, a transgender man who was found shot and killed on March 19 in a remote desert area in Utah County. Franco had been reported as missing and possibly abducted on March 18. Police have taken three teenagers, aged 15, 17, and 17, into custody.  

“This is beyond horrific. Alex Franco deserved to live a life free from the fear of gun violence,” said Becky George, Chief Movement Building Officer at Everytown for Gun Safety. “To meaningfully honor Alex’s memory, we demand our lawmakers at all levels take action to  disarm hate to protect transgender and gender-expansive communities. We won’t stop fighting to make our communities safe for everyone so they are celebrated, not harmed because of their identity.”

“We are devastated to learn of the shooting of Alex Franco. Young people in our communities, especially our transgender and gender-expansive neighbors, should not have to fear the intersectional consequences of hate, transphobia, and easy access to firearms,” said Jaden Christensen, a volunteer with the Utah chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As we stand with Alex’s loved ones during this difficult time, we will continue to hold our legislators accountable. Our lawmakers have a duty to protect their transgender and gender-expansive constituents, and it is far past time that Utah legislation prioritizes the safety of our LGBTQ+ communities.”

“Alex Franco should be alive. Trans youth deserve to live and love freely without facing the deadly consequences of gun violence for simply being their true selves,” said Sam Mell, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action. “Now more than ever, Utah should be focused on passing common-sense gun safety laws that will help protect all communities, instead of working to pass laws that will put LGBTQ+ communities at further risk.” 

Tragically, Franco’s death is not an isolated event, and speaks to a larger trend of marginalized groups facing the disproportionate impact of gun violence on their communities. From January 2017 to December 2023, there were at least 263 homicides of transgender and gender expansive people in the United States, 193 of which were with a gun.  In 2023 alone, there were 35 homicides of transgender and gender-expansive people in the US and Puerto Rico and guns were used in 80 percent of these deadly acts. So far in 2024, there have been at least 4 gun homicides of transgender and gender-expansive people. It’s also important to remember that there have likely been more deaths that have gone unreported or victims who have been misgendered

This tragic trend isn’t happening in a vacuum. As of February this year, 130 anti-trans bills have been filed in states across the country. According to media outlets, in January, Utah lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit transgender and gender-expansive people from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities in schools and government buildings. This marks the third year in a row that Utah lawmakers have passed anti-trans legislation, limiting the rights of the trans community in the state. As states across the country continue to pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, it is clear: Political attacks and extremism fuel real-life violence, and hateful rhetoric has serious consequences for the safety of the LGBTQ+ community. When hate is paired with unfettered access to firearms, the consequences become even more deadly. To keep trans and gender-expansive people safe, lawmakers at every level must take action to prioritize legislation that disarms hate and protects marginalized groups from gun violence.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has tracked homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. since 2017. In addition to breaking down gun violence to the state- and county level, the platform includes a database of known trans or gender-nonconforming homicide victims in the United States. 

Utah has some weak and some strong gun laws. In an average year, 418 people die by guns in Utah and 195 more are wounded. 82% of gun deaths in Utah are by firearm suicide. More information on gun violence in Utah is available here