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Jacksonville, Fla., Sees Third Trans Murder of 2018

Crime scene

Jacksonville, Fla., has seen its third homicide of a transgender woman this year.

The latest victim was shot to death about 1 p.m. Sunday outside a Quality Inn and Suites motel, The Florida Times-Union reports. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office listed a male name for the victim, a 24-year-old from Bishopville, S.C., and “did not say if she went by another name,” the paper reports, although the sheriff’s office has a history of deadnaming and misgendering trans people. The Advocate will not use the male name.

The other trans women murdered in Jacksonville this year were 38-year-old Antash’a English, shot to death on a street this month, and Celine Walker, 36, fatally shot at a motel in February. Another trans woman was shot in the city this month but survived; her name has not been released because her attacker is still at large.

Sheriff’s office personnel do not believe the crimes are related, and they have yet to arrest any suspects. But LGBT activists say the repeated violence represents a crisis and have made plans to address it. Members of the Jacksonville Transgender Action Committee plan to speak at the City Council meeting today at 5 p.m., and this group and the Transgender Awareness Project have planned a rally for 7 p.m. Wednesday in front of the Duval County Courthouse.

“We are getting proactive,” Paige Mahogany Parks, director of the Transgender Awareness Project, told the Times-Union. “We are coming together with one cause — let’s solve these crimes.”

"For years, there has been a crisis of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color,” added Human Rights Campaign national press secretary Sarah McBride in a press release. “With four shootings — including three fatal shootings — of transgender women in the last six months, Jacksonville is now at the center of that crisis.”

McBride also told the Times-Union she was “deeply troubled” by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s practice of misgendering trans homicide victims. The sheriff’s office’s policy “is to use a homicide victim’s most current form of government-issued identification,” which may not reflect their lived gender, the paper reports.

Transgender people and LGBT people in general face widespread discrimination in northeast Florida, according to a new study by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles. Three-quarters of respondents to the survey reported “everyday discrimination,” such as being disrespected, threatened or harassed, usually due to their gender or sexual orientation.

“This study shows us that many of Jacksonville’s LGBTI residents have experienced discrimination in employment, housing, and banking and felt unfairly treated in their interactions with law enforcement,” said lead author Taylor Brown, a project manager at the Williams Institute, in a press release. “These data can be used to inform the continued implementation of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and other personal characteristics. Currently Florida’s statewide nondiscrimination laws do not include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.This study could prove useful in the development of statewide protections for LGBTI people.” Find more information here.

Anyone with information that might help solve this year's crimes against transgender Jacksonville residents can contact the sheriff’s office at (904) 630-0500 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866)-845-8477 (TIPS).

The latest death is the 13th homicide of a trans person reported in the U.S. this year. Most victims have been women of color. The actual number killed in any year is likely much greater, given that some are misgendered or their deaths not reported at all.

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