The body of a 23-year-old transgender woman was found on Orchard Beach, in the Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park, on Monday morning, according to New York City police.
Elijah Williams, of Manhattan, was discovered by officers just after 6 a.m. on Monday near the shore of the Long Island Sound, the Bronx Times reports.
It wasn’t clear if Williams had any signs of trauma to her body, or if she was clothed, and police were unable to immediately determine whether she had been killed or died of other causes, reports NBC New York. The medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine how she died.
Williams had previously been reported missing by a friend, who had received a call from Williams saying she was going to the beach. But Williams never returned to her Harlem neighborhood. The friend took her concerns to the NYPD’s 45th Precinct in the Bronx, according to Harlem Patch.
State Sen. Alesssandra Biaggi (D-Manhattan) posted a message of condolence to William’s family on Twitter, writing: “I extend my deepest condolences to Elijah’s family and loved ones in the wake of this terrible loss. This is an ongoing investigation and the cause of death has yet to be determined. May she rest in peace.”
If it is determined that Williams was killed, she would become the 27th transgender or gender-nonconforming person killed in the United States this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, often face higher rates of violence.
According to the U.S. Transgender Survey, more than 1 in 8 transgender women report having been physically attacked in the past year, with transgender women of color more likely than white transgender women to report that they were attacked specifically for their gender identity.
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