The local transgender community in Jacksonville, Fla., is in shock following the murder of another trans woman.
Police found Cathalina James, 24, fatally shot after responding to reports of gunshots in a Baymeadows area hotel.
The shooting marks the fourth attack and third death of a transgender woman in the Jacksonville area this year. On June 1st, Antash’a English was fatally shot, while another trans woman, Celine Walker, was murdered in a motel room in February.
Earlier this month, a trans woman — who has not been named due to her assailant still being at large — survived multiple gunshot wounds in Northwest Jacksonville. She is the only victim so far to survive her attack.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has said no evidence suggests the attacks are linked, however transgender activist Paige Mahogany Parks believes the Jacksonville trans community is being targeted.
“When I walk out my door, as well as a lot of transgender girls here, we’re looking over our backs. Places we normally feel comfortable, we don’t feel comfortable going to those places anymore,” Parks told News4Jax. “When we walk out our door, we don’t know if we’re going to make it home safe.”
Cindy Watson, chief executive officer of LGBTQ advocacy group Jasmyn, said she wants to ensure that these cases don’t get overlooked due to the gender identification or race of the victims. At least three of the victims, James, English and Walker, were African American.
“We see many trans women who are African American, and I think they feel particularly targeted by these crimes,” said Watson.”We just want to see them treated with the same kind of dignity and respect that any other victim of a crime would be treated with.”
She added: “These are real people with real lives and their lives matter. They matter to us and the people who loved them.”
The Coalition for Equality has been asking for a meeting with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to discuss the concerns of the LGBTQ community. Watson said they have yet to receive a response.
The deaths in Jacksonville are among at least 15 American transgender people killed so far this year. Last year, 27 transgender people were murdered, the highest on record. A majority of the victims have been trans women of color.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to add the victim’s confirmed name and ethnicity.