Trans woman Brittany Stergis was found in her car on Friday, shot in the head. Trans advocates in Cleveland suggested the incident had the markings of a hate crime.
One day earlier, Betty Skinner was found dead in her bed at home with apparent head injuries. She was disabled and a resident of a senior apartment center in Cleveland.
Cleveland police say there’s no indication the crimes are related nor are they ready to label either of them a hate crime. They urge people with information to call them at 216-623-5464.
The Cleveland transgender community has been hit hard with incidents of murder. It was only a month ago that a man was convicted of killing another Cleveland trans woman, Cemia Dove back in January: https://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/killers-of-trans-women-in-nyc-and-cleveland-convicted/
UPDATE — Dec. 15, 2013: Cleveland newspaper, The Plain Dealer, published an editorial condemning the murders of trans women and urge the police to be more proactive in Cleveland:
The murders of three transgender women should haunt us all
Murder is murder. Sometimes, though, it is more than that. It is a hate crime.
The homicides of two transgender women on consecutive days in Cleveland last week suggested such a scenario — killers targeting an at-risk, marginalized community that few care about or even know much about.
Cleveland police do not believe the two murders are connected, said spokeswoman Det. Jennifer Ciaccia. One of the murdered women may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No suspects have been identified, and neither homicide has been classified as a hate crime — unsurprising, since a gap in state law means that murders for sexual orientation or transgender identity cannot be classed as hate crimes, according to Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, the state’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning advocacy group.
The body of Betty Skinner, a 52-year-old disabled, transgender woman, was discovered by a health care worker the morning of Dec. 5. Skinner had apparently been murdered during an aggravated burglary.
Early the next morning, Brittany Stergis, a 22-year-old transgender woman, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head inside her sister’s car.
Investigators are asking the public for help in solving both crimes – and therein lies the real issue.
“The police and the transgender community are traditionally not very connected,” said Holford.
The lack of trust doesn’t simply impede criminal investigations. It also perpetuates the stereotype that transgender men and women are second-class citizens.
Last week’s murders come a month after Andrey Bridges was sentenced to life in prison for killing Cemia “Ce Ce” Dove in January. The 20-year-old transgender woman had been stabbed 40 times and her body dumped in a retention pond, tied to a concrete block.
That homicide also was not classified as a hate crime, even though testimony in Bridges’ trial suggested he murdered Dove after becoming enraged upon discovering her male genitalia.
Still, there are glimmers of hope. Local companies such as KeyCorp, Progressive Insurance, Squire Sanders and Thompson Hine LLP recently received top scores for their commitment to LGBTQ equality and inclusion, according to ratings released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
“Simultaneously there is so much progress and yet in the same breath …” Holford said and then paused.
There are no words for people who may be targeted for death simply because of their sexual identity.”
It was only months ago there was an uproar over the misgendering tactics used by this newspaper, but now they’re clearly on board with fixing a problem that has vexed trans advocates for decades. Thumbs up to The Plains Dealer.
Watch LEXIE CANNES right now: http://www.amazon.com/Lexie-Cannes-CourtneyODonnell/dp/B00KEYH3LQ Or get the DVD: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0963781332
LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia: http://www.wipeouttransphobia.com/
Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-odonnell/