||| Christa Steele Knudslien Facebook |||
A transgender rights advocate who founded a pageant for transgender women in New England is found dead in her home Friday making her the first transgender person to be killed this year.
Authorities say transgender Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien was stabbed and beaten to death by her husband. She was found dead in her North Adams home on Friday evening.
The transgender woman’s husband, Mark Steele Knudslien denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to murder on Monday. Police say, however, that he admitted hitting his wife with a hammer and stabbing her after an argument.
Police say the 47-year old Knudslien admitted striking his wife numerous times with a hammer and stabbing her in the back with a large knife before wrapping her body in a tarp.
Investigators say Knudslien shared he and Christa got into an argument and that he just “snapped.” He also claimed that she was “always belittling him.”
Knudslien turned himself to the police on Friday and confessed to the officers that he had done “something very bad.”
42-year-old Christa is well-known in the transgender community in Massachusetts for her activism for LGBT issues. She was active in launching the first New England Trans Pride a decade ago. She also later started with friends Miss Trans New England pageant which brought together transgender women from across the region.
Knudslien was held Monday without bail.
A friend paid tribute to Christa by saying: “Her thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful.”
LGBT organization GLAAD confirmed that Christa is indeed the first transgender to be killed this 2018.
2017 was considered one of the deadliest years for transgender people in the U.S. Data from January until late November last year show that at least 25 transgender people were killed in the country, making it the worst in at least a decade.