28 June 2014

Young, Black, Trans--And Dead--In Ohio

Imagine finding the body of a gunshot victim in the middle of a street at 8 o'clock in the morning.  

That is the gruesome discovery a Cincinnati sanitation driver made the other morning by coming upon the corpse of twenty-eight-year-old Tiffany Edwards. Police are looking for a suspect named Quamar Edwards, who is not related to Tiffany.

What did Ms. Edwards have in common with Cemia "CeCe" Dove, Betty Skinner and Nicole Kidd Stergis?  Because you're reading this blog, you've probably guessed that they were all transgender women.  And they were all killed in Ohio during the past eighteen months.  

Oh, and all except Skinner were trans women of color.  The risks trans people face--We are sixteen times as likely to be murdered as anyone else--are magnified for trans people, especially trans women, of color.  

The state that calls itself The Mother of Presidents has its share of capable community leaders, such as Shane Morgan, the founder and chair of TransOhio, and Vicky Blum, the outreach director at Crossport.  However, they are working in a particularly difficult environment:  Ohio's hate-crimes laws do not cover crimes based on sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.  
That, perhaps, is not surprising when one considers that the Buckeye State is one of five (Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee being the others) that do not alter the sex on a transsexual's birth certificate, even after he or she has had gender-reassignment surgery.  

Thanks again to Kelli Busey of "Planetransgender" for making me aware of a story not covered in the local news media.

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