Local activists sound the alarm a serial killer may be targetting trans women after three women are shot and killed in unsolved crimes hampered by police insensitivity.
There are fears a serial killer is targeting members of the trans community in Jacksonville, Florida after three trans women have been shot and killed since the beginning of February.
Celine Walker (36) was fatally shot in early February inside a hotel room. According to local activists, police misgendered and deadnamed (the practice of referring to a trans person’s birth name instead of their chosen name) Walker, which meant that she was not identified as trans until several days after her death. Speaking at the time of her murder, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, Chris Hancock, said: “He was a he per legal documents… A lot of people are upset that we haven’t identified her as a female when she wasn’t a female.”
The second victim was Antash’a English (38) who died after being shot in the abdomen from a passing vehicle. Once again she was misgendered and deadnamed by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Speaking at the time of her death, a friend described her as “an unapologetic, bold and loyal person.”
On Sunday Cathalina Christina James (24) was shot and killed at The Quality Inn. Following a typical pattern, she was also deadnamed and misgendered by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who ignored previous pleas to use victims chosen pronouns and gender.
Aside from being disrespectful, the misgendering of trans people can have a distorting effect on official figures which record violence against trans people. “The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened. They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets,” said Gina Duncan of About Equality – a Florida based LGBT+ NGO.
“By misgendering these transgender women, the JSO disrespects their memory and impedes their own investigations. These are out, trans women and that is how they are known in the community. All across the nation, law enforcement agencies have adopted protocols for responding to anti-transgender violence. They recognize that respecting the community builds trust and creates a willingness to share information that may catch a killer.”
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