Posted on | June 20, 2014 | 16 Comments
Well, we can all agree on this, I’m pretty sure. But apparently there is someone in Florida who feels otherwise:
FORT MYERS — Fort Myers police are trying to find the killer of a transgender woman whose body was found burned behind a garbage bin Thursday.
Police on Friday identified the victim as Eddie James Owen, 31, but family members said Owen identified as a woman and went by the name Yazmin or Yaz’min Shancez.
(Warning: Pronoun confusion ahead.)
Fort Myers Police Lt. Jay Rodriguez said they have not determined a cause of death, and are not investigating the homicide as a hate crime.
“We have no indication at this time to say this was specifically done because it was a male living as a female or anything like that,” Rodriguez said. “If you really think about it, a hate crime is killing someone for a specific reason, being black, Hispanic, gay. We’re investigating as we would any other homicide.”
(Keep this in mind: Police don’t even know the cause of death yet. They haven’t identified a suspect or a motive.)
The body was found on a dead-end, private road near Fowler Street in an industrial part of the city. The victim’s father, Harvey Loggins, said his family left balloons and stuffed animals behind the Budget Truck Rental site Friday to bring some light to the crime scene, which was still bloody and charred when he first arrived after hearing the news.
“We didn’t hate him for what he was,” Loggins said of Shancez. “Still to this day I love him. I wish he was here right now.”
(The father of the victim uses male pronouns for his son, Eddie.)
The victim was identifying as a woman as early as 2004, according to a police report where officers spelled her alias as “Jasmine.” At the time, the 20-year-old was working as a self-employed hair stylist, according to records for a failure to appear on a charge of battery.
Ross Murray, a spokesman for GLAAD, an advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, said he didn’t know if Thursday’s killing was a hate crime, but said “no one deserves to be violently murdered and set on fire and put behind a Dumpster.”
(Again, there is no disagreement about this. We are against murdering people. We are against setting people on fire.)
In 2013, 13 of the 18 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides were transgender women and 89 percent of the victims were people of color, GLAAD reports.
“Transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, face the most violence against them,” Murray said.
(Hmmm. There are about 15,000 homicides annually in the United States. If there were “18 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides,” this would mean that about one-eighth of one percent — 0.12% — of U.S. homicides were motivated by “anti-LGBTQ” sentiment. There would have to be an 800% increase in anti-gay hate crimes for such murders to amount to even 1% of the total.)
FBI data shows Fort Myers had one hate crime, which was racially-based, in 2012, the most recent year of available data. Collier County also had one reported hate crime, which was based on sexual orientation, according to the FBI.
“I think that transgender people are still marginalized and stigmatized in our society,” Murray said. “We tend to talk about transgender people in a way that discounts their experience and makes them a butt of a joke or deviant or suspicious and doesn’t take (their) whole life into account.”
(Perhaps, but remember that so far police have provided no indication of the motive for this particular murder.)
In October 2012, a man who once rented a room from Shancez filed for a restraining order, saying Shancez had threatened him and his girlfriend. According to the petition, the man said Shancez yelled out a car window that the couple “will be laying in our death beds together” and threatened to file a false report that said the couple came to her house and beat her.
A judge denied the couple’s petitions, saying there was not enough evidence of repeat violence or stalking.
(Could this point toward a possible motive? Does it indicate that the victim maybe had a bad temper? Again, we have no indication of a motive for the murder, and this 2012 restraining order situation probably had nothing to do with it.)
The SWFL Equality Coalition is planning a vigil for Shancez at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at Centennial Park in Fort Myers.
Well, OK, and maybe by Sunday the police will have a suspect in custody, so that maybe we will know something about the motive. At this point, however, we know nothing at all about the motive, and I object to the pre-emptive journalistic speculation that amounts to the newspaper hinting around that there could be a hate crime here, just because the victim was “transgender.”
Of course, maybe this was a hate crime, but we don’t know that. Does Fort Myers have a gang problem or a drug problem? Then why isn’t the newspaper dropping hints about that? Dope dealers and gang-bangers probably commit more than 0.12% of murders. Why isn’t the newspaper asking whether Yazmin was involved with drugs? Why doesn’t the story mention gang-related violence in Fort Myers?
There is no journalistic speculation that maybe Yazmin got ripped off on a meth deal by some local Crips, because it would be irresponsible to do so without any substantiation, and yet without any evidence of a hate motive for Yazmin’s murder, the reporter has to call up a national spokesman for GLAAD to declare that ““no one deserves to be violently murdered and set on fire and put behind a Dumpster” — as if Fort Myers newspaper readers needed such a lecture: “Hey, murder is a bad thing, you guys!”
Irresponsible journalism makes some people wish they could murder the media, set them on fire and put them behind a Dumpster.
For the record, I’m against that, too.