Amber Monroe, who identified as female on Facebook, was found dead early on Saturday morning after an apparent shooting, police told Fox2Detroit.
Her friend, Julisa Abad, told the station Monroe had previously been a victim of violence. "She's been shot 2 or 3 times [in the past]. But this time she didn't make it," Abad said.
Repeated calls from BuzzFeed News to the Detroit police homicide department and public information office on Saturday and Sunday were not immediately returned.
"Our hearts are heavy with grief that we have lost another vibrant member of our community too soon," Yvonne Siferd, director of victim services for Equality Michigan, wrote on Facebook. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Amber’s family and friends whom she clearly loved deeply."
"We have no idea yet whether this attack was fueled by transphobia, but we do know that Amber’s murder is the 12th murder of a transgender woman in the United States this year, and the 10th murder of a transgender woman of color," Siferd said. "Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by violence."
A June report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found hate-motivated violence against transgender people rose 13% in 2014. The rise in attacks came despite a 32% overall drop in hate-motivated violence against all LGBT people.
According to her Facebook profile, Monroe, 20, studied at Wayne State University and had graduated from Oak Park High School outside of Detroit.
"Her life was just beginning," Siferd said. "I know that this loss will leave so many people with a hole in their lives and with more questions than answers. Let’s come together to celebrate her life, and work for real change so that our transgender sisters can be free from persecution. I know we can do better. We have to do better.”
News of Monroe's death on Saturday caught the attention of Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox, who shared a post from a fellow activist.