Hulu’s crime docuseries How I Caught My Killer features those cases that were solved with the help of the clues left behind by the victims. Eli Erlick narrated one of these cases.
The first episode of How I Caught My Killer focuses on the investigation of the murder case of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a 17-year-old transwoman. Nikki had a massive social media following, with around 10,000 followers.
Nikki’s case attracted a lot of media attention. The makers of the docuseries chose Eli Erlick, a well-known activist, to tell Nikki’s story, which brought people together to demand the removal of a discriminatory defense that placed a lesser value on the lives of the LGBTQ+ community.
The case of Nikki Kuhnhausen
After Nikki’s body was discovered, her case became quite popular. Activists and people from the transgender community came together to form the Justice for Nikki Task Force; the aim of the task force was to ensure that Nikki’s story was heard by everyone and to get justice for her.
Through Nikki’s Snapchat, the police find out that David Bogdanov was the last person to see Nikki. She had gone on a date with David on the day she died. Judging by his statement to the police, it was clear that he was homophobic and transphobic.
When the police had sufficient evidence to arrest and charge him, people feared that he might use the trans panic defense in court, which would allow him to walk free. It was an unfair defense that did not hold people accountable for killing transgender people.
However, he pleaded not guilty in court and claimed that he acted in self-defense. The jury did not believe him, and he was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Nikki’s case is special because her family and the people who demanded justice for her helped create a new law, the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act. This law eliminates the gay and trans panic defense in the state of Washington, holding those who kill LGBTQ+ people accountable.
The voice that narrates the story
Eli Erlick does not appear in How I Caught My Killer, but she still plays an important role as the narrator of Nikki’s story.
As a person who has been propagating the rights of transgender people from an early age, she was given the role of telling the story of the case that made a difference; it made the world a little safer for the LGBTQ+ community with the creation of a new law.
Erlick is an activist, writer, and public speaker. She came out as queer and trans at the age of 8 and transitioned early in life. She started activism when she was still a teenager.
Erlick was just 16 when she co-founded Trans Student Educational Resources (TSER), one of the largest transgender organizations in the US, in 2011.
TSER claims to be the only US national organization that is for trans youth and is run by trans youth. It aims to transform the educational environment for trans students.
Erlick’s struggle has been successful, as she was able to expand and add to the national conversation on transgender students’ access to education in 2013.
Her work has won several accolades. She is a Peace First Fellow, a Westly Foundation’s Young Innovator Awardee, and a Trans 100 honoree, among others. She became the first transwoman to win Glamour Magazine’s College Woman of the Year.
Her writings include over 100 book chapters, journal articles, essays, academic paper presentations, and op-eds. She has even penned down policies like ‘Model Admissions Policy for Transgender Students at Women’s Colleges’.
Erlick is pursuing her Ph.D. in Feminist Studies and History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has been fighting for the rights of transgender people, and she still has a lot more to achieve.