Metro Weekly

Cleveland woman becomes 23rd transgender person killed this year

Brandi Bledsoe is the fourth Cleveland-area transgender woman violently killed in recent years

Brandi Bledsoe - Photo: John Craggett

Brandi Bledsoe – Photo: John Craggett

Brandi Bledsoe has become the 23rd transgender person killed so far this year, after she was shot to death in Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner has ruled that the death of 32-year-old Bledsoe a homicide, finding that she was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Bledsoe was found dead around 10 a.m. last Saturday in a driveway behind a home on Drexel Avenue, on Cleveland’s East Side.

She was wearing only underwear and had white plastic bags covering her head and both hands, according to police reports. Police also reported that Bledsoe had experienced head trauma.

A spokeswoman for the Cleveland police said Bledsoe’s death is still under investigation, and that it’s too early to consider motive for her killing.

However, the spokeswoman also said detectives would take into account Bledsoe’s transgender status as part of the investigation. No arrests have been made in the case.

Bledsoe’s death marks the fourth transgender woman to be killed in Cleveland since 2012, following the deaths of 22-year-old, Brittany Stergis, killed by a gunshot on the city’s West Side in December 2013; 52-year-old Betty Skinner, a disabled woman who died of head injuries whose death in 2013 was ruled a homicide; and 20-year-old Cemia “Ce Ce” Dove, who was stabbed 40 times and had her body thrown into a pond after a man she went on a date with found out she was transgender.

According to GLAAD, Blesdoe’s death makes her the 23rd transgender victim of violent crime this year.

GLAAD issued a statement shortly after Bledsoe’s death calling on the media to report on each transgender person murdered, and to avoid misgendering transgender people when reporting on their lives and deaths.

“In the first ten months of this year, the deaths of 23 transgender people have been reported. That’s a rate of more than two transgender people killed every month,” GLAAD’s statement reads. “This number does not include transgender people whose deaths were not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim’s family.”

GLAAD’s statement continues below:

“The most recent victims: Brandi Bledsoe, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman, who was killed in Cleveland, Ohio on October 12; Jazz Alford, a 30-year-old Black transgender woman, who was killed in Burmingham, Alabama on September 23; Crystal Edmonds, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman, who was killed in northwest Baltimore on September 16; T.T., a Black transgender woman, about whom few details are known but thought to be in her mid-twenties, was killed in Chicago’s Garfield Park on September 11.

“The victims of this violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. While some of these homicides have not yet been identified as hate crimes due to lack of information about the perpetrators or motives, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports an alarming multi-year trend showing that transgender women experience a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com