Sasha Garden, 27, was found dead at an Orlando apartment complex on Thursday, reports Orlando Weekly, becoming the fourth transgender woman murdered in Florida this year alone.
The Orlando County Sheriff's Office says Garden's body had signs of trauma and was found at 5 a.m. in the back of Reserve at Lake Buchanan Apartments.
Garden, an advocate for transgender women and outreach coordinator for the HIV and AIDS organization Miracle of Love, was a sex worker saving money to transition and become a hairstylist. Garden was known for an outgoing spirit. "She was a firecracker — very outspoken," said Montrese Williams, who houses transgender women involved in sex work, providing free condoms, water bottles, and HIV testing. A former sex worker herself, Williams told Orlando Weekly, "You know when something happens, we don’t call police. We don’t want to be judged by the police. We don’t want to be misgendered by officers — they still tell us, 'We have to call you by your government name, what’s on your ID.'"
Garden is the fourth a transgender woman of color murdered this year in Florida, where media and law enforcement continue to misgender victims. It started when police came to have her identify the body, according to Williams.
She said Orange County deputies' disrespect for trans people began "as soon as I opened the door." One deputy "acted like he couldn't even pronounce transgender." The official police description of Garden's murder called her a 27-year-old man who "was wearing a wig and was dressed as female." Orlando television stations WESH and WFTV picked up that description and then refused to correct it even after Garden's friends called to complain. Hours later, the Orange County Sheriff's Office sent an updated report that referred to Garden as transgender, and the stations updated their headlines.
“Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by hate violence. The tragedy of these incidents is compounded when reporting misgenders the person in death, disrespecting their true identity,” said Nick Adams, director of rransgender media and representation at GLAAD.
“As we mourn for the victims of these horrific murders, and denounce the pervasive violence against our trans siblings, we adamantly call on the media and law enforcement to get this right,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, in a statement. “We, as a society, should be well past misgendering transgender people. There are national resources that address these issues." Duncan said misgendering "is an overt act of bigotry and at best, an act of ignorance and neglect."