Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Transgender Woman Savagely Murdered in Detroit

East Detroit kill site where trans woman Coko Williams was brutally murdered (Detroit Free Press photo)

Detroit, Michigan – A 35-year-old trans woman was found murdered outside a Parkhurst neighborhood home on Tuesday morning. Because of the reputation of the area, and the stigma associating transgender women with sex workers, the killing of Coko Williams is being lost in the struggle of a neighborhood to survive.  Ms. Williams was found with her throat slashed and shot to death around 6:25 a.m. Tuesday in an area of East Detroit habituated by male and female prostitutes–one that could be justifiably described as “gritty.”  WWJ, the local CBS affiliate, reports that details are still emerging at this hour, but witnesses told police that the killers sped from the crime scene in a gold-colored vehicle.  No suspects have been identified at this time.

News coverage, like that done by Fox News 2, has been slanted toward the determination of Parkhurst residents to eliminate prostitution, drug sales, and violence from their area. Ms. Williams’ murder simply serves Fox as an example of the problems residents face. The Examiner presents Ms. Williams as a “man dressed as a woman,” showing the victim’s self-identification as inconsequential in an otherwise sensational story.  Both news sources illustrate the massive difficulty transgender people face overcoming the biased stereotypes that demean trans people everywhere, and denigrate the characters of trans victims of violence, such as Ms. Williams.

Coko Williams was well-known and well-liked, according to the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Program. A friend of Ms. Williams who identified herself as Dada told TWAVP that she had known Ms. Williams for fifteen years. Though she was “a loner,” Ms. Dada said, “She was really a sweet, quiet girl. She was never shady or nasty. She wasn’t that type of girl at all. She was always respectful of herself and to other people. It’s sad for her to go out the way she did.”  Her friends told authorities that supported herself as a hair stylist.

Equality Michigan’s Director of Victim Services, Nursrat Ventimiglia, issued an extensive statement to the press, combatting the disinformation surrounding Ms. Williams’ hate crime murder, and calling upon the Detroit Police to apprehend her killers with all possible speed. “It has been widely reported,” Ventimiglia said, “that the area in which this crime occurred is known for sex work. To be clear, it is unknown at this time whether Ms. Williams was engaged in sex work at the time of her killing, however, it is clear that sex workers are often targets of severe violence. Further, transgender women are far too often victims of the most severe violence.”

Ventimiglia then detailed the crisis of transgender violence rocking Detroit and the nation: “Our most recent report through the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010, documented 27 anti gay, transgender and HIV positive murders, the second highest yearly total ever recorded by the coalition, and transgender women made up 44% of the 27 reported murders in 2010 while representing only 11% of total survivors and victims. Among transgender murder victims, 42% of transgender women killed last year were engaged in sex work at the time of their murder. Equality Michigan and the NCAVP denounce violence against sex workers and seek to raise awareness of the violence faced by gay and transgender sex workers as well as transgender women.”

The investigation is ongoing.

April 5, 2012 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Equality Michigan, GLBTQ, gun violence, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Media Issues, Michigan, Slashing attacks, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

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    Comment by http://azgolfernews.com | May 22, 2013 | Reply


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