Lately, the pageant community is mourning the loss of someone who left her mark on the industry. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, the founder of trans beauty pageants in America, was murdered by her husband last week. (Read: India Hosts Its First Transgender Beauty Pageant)
About her death
Steele-Knudslien was found stabbed to death by her husband in her home in Massachusetts. Her death appears to be a fatal domestic violence incident after her husband turned himself into the local authorities. He told police that he has just snapped and done something “very bad.” Police say there appears to be no history of domestic violence within the marriage, but her Facebook page shows signs of trouble within the relationship.
Steele-Knudslien’s cause of death was a loss of blood, as well as multiple blunt force traumas to the head. Her husband has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder but did admit to killing his wife during an interview with police. Information about his motive for killing Steele-Knudslien has not yet been released. He is being held at this time without bail. Her death is reportedly the first murder of a trans person in 2018.
About her mark on the industry
Steele-Knudslien was known best for her work as an activist in the trans community. Her friends recall her organizing the first-ever trans pride parade in neighboring Northampton, Massachusetts and the Miss Trans New England Pageant. She also founded the Miss Trans America pageant, a huge step towards inclusivity of trans women in the pageant community. (Read: First Openly Transgender Contestant to Compete in Miss Montana USA)
“Her thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful,” her friend Justin Akins told the press.
She constantly spoke about trans rights and even spoke on November 20, 2017, for Trans Day of Remembrance to honor all the lives taken because of hate towards transgender people. Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project regarded her as “a powerful organizer and fierce activist,” throughout her lifetime.
Our deepest condolences go out to those whose lives were impacted by Steele-Knudslien.
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