The body of Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis, a 22-year-old transgender woman of color, was found in her parked car on the 21200 block of West 25th Street in Cleveland, outside a public housing facility, around 2:30 a.m. Friday, according to theCleveland Plain Dealer. She died of an apparent gunshot wound to the head.
Just one day earlier, the body of 52-year-old Betty Skinner, a disabled transgender woman, was found in her apartment at the Deaconess Krafft Center assisted-living apartment complex. The cause of death appears to be blunt force trauma to the head, reports the Plain Dealer.
This comes just a month after Andrey Bridges, 36, was convicted in the January 5 stabbing murder of Cemia "CeCe"Dove, another Cleveland-area transgender woman. Bridges was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. Coverage of Dove's death became the subject of controversy among transgender individuals, as the Plain Dealer neglected GLAAD's Media Reference Guide and the Associated Press Stylebook's guidelines for reporting on trans people, frequently misgendering Dove and making use of sensationalistic headlines like "Oddly Dressed Body Found in Olmsted Township Pond Identified" and "Brutal Slaying Marks End of Cleveland Man's Fight for Acceptance."
Thus far, Cleveland media coverage of the recent murders has been mixed, with local NBC affiliate WKYC misgendering and misnaming Kidd-Stergis in its coverage, frequently referring to her as a man, and using masculine pronouns.
Coverage like WKYC's does little to help police solve violent crimes against transgender people. When media outlets fail to report the names individuals go by, they fail the victims in another important way: They give potential witnesses reason to feel unsafe in coming forward, fearing the same type of disrespectful treatment the victims have received. This hesitance among those with information to come forward could lead to crimes like these going unsolved.
Police have not named any suspects in either of last week's murders and are asking anyone with information regarding the deaths of Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis or Betty Skinner to call the Cleveland Police Department's Homicide Unit at (216) 623-5464.