A 25-year-old transgender woman, was found beaten to death on Tuesday morning outside of the University Area Community Center in Tampa Bay, Florida, an incident officials are calling a murder.
The young woman, India Clarke, who was described by family as a “very loving person” is the 10th transgender homicide in the US this year, according to the National Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), and is being seen as more evidence of what many are calling an “epidemic of violence”.
A park employee found Clarke’s body just before 9am, and according to investigators, she died due to blunt force trauma.
“Mom, I love you, Dad, I love you,” were Clarke’s last words before leaving the house that day, her mother, Thelma Clarke, told Tampa Bay’s WTSP Her family had last seen her on Sunday spending time with her nephews, according to WTSP.
“We both said: ‘We love you too,’” Thelma Clarke said.
Officials are not currently labeling the murder as hate-motivated and have asked the public for leads in the investigation. A local organization called Crime Stoppers is offering a $3,000 reward for any information that helps lead to an arrest.
In the wake of her death, local media and officials have gone against journalistic standards around reporting on transgender people, by using pronouns the victim did not use to refer to herself.
“We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women’s clothing on at the time,” McKinnon told BuzzFeed News . “What his lifestyle was prior to that we don’t know – whether he was a cross dresser, we don’t know.”
National anti-violence groups working closely with organizations involved in the case see this misgendering of the victim as another form of violence, which hurts the potential for the case being solved.
“We appreciate that local law enforcement has reached out to community … but it’s critical that they reach out using the actual name and gender identity of the victim,” Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP co-director of community organizing and public advocacy told the Guardian.
“Otherwise there is the risk of a case growing cold,” he continued, “which is something we have seen all too frequently with trans women’s homicides, because people are being improperly named and gendered.”
Jindasurat also told the Guardian that by using pronouns like “him” when the person identifies as a woman only perpetuates the transphobic violence that led to that person’s death.
Earlier this year, NCAVP released a comprehensive report on violence affecting HIV-positive and LGBTQ people, which found that 2014 saw a 19% rise in murders.
Transgender women of color, like Clarke, made up 80% of all reported homicides.
According to the NCAVP, this year already appears to be deadlier than the previous year – whichhad already reached a historical high – something they believe could be due to better reporting and increased visibility of LGBTQ people.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015
Watch a video report about the incident below: