Transgender women of color are disproportionately affected by fatal violence. Many times their deaths are not reported and even when they are, there is barely a mention in the media. Now there are growing concerns about a possible serial killer in Jacksonville, Florida who is targeting transgender women.
NBC News reports three transgender women have been shot and killed this year in Jacksonville and activists fear they are linked.
On February 4, Celine Walker, 36, was found shot to death in an Extended Stay America hotel in the city at about 8 p.m. On June 1, Antash’a English, 38, was found shot in the abdomen between two abandoned houses in northern Jacksonville. She later died at a local hospital. On June 24, Cathalina Christina James, 24, was found at a Quality Inn and Suites in Jacksonville, which is approximately 10 miles away from where Celine Walker’s body was found.
Police have said they don’t believe there is a link, which is the same thing police said about missing Black girls in Chicago. But Paige Mahogany, the head of the Jacksonville Transgender Awareness Project, told NBC News, “The transgender community feels like there’s a target on their backs. We don’t feel safe in Jacksonville.” She also added, “Every day, there are a lot of crimes not being reported, because when the sheriffs come out, the sheriffs make the girls feel like suspects, not victims. A lot of these girls are being beaten up, they’re being robbed, they’re being assaulted, but they’re not reaching out to the police department.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office also refuses to identify the transgender women as women in reports and in the media. As we reported in January, a friend of Celine Walker was “told the department does not refer to people as transgender.”
Gina Duncan, of Equality Florida, an advocacy group for queer people in Florida, said in a statement, “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.”
Tomorrow, there will be a Trans Lives Matter rally in Jacksonville “for the transgender lives who have become the victims of murder or attempted murder.”
Police reportedly have no suspects, but said they are “looking for a man in a beige car.”
Whether it’s unarmed Black men, missing Black girls in Chicago, or Black transgender women, these lives do not appear to be valuable to law enforcement.
Rest in peace to the three transgender women who were senselessly murdered.