- The Magazine
LGBTQ advocates in Jackson, Miss., are saying the slaying of a transgender woman underscores the need for enhanced penalties for crimes committed against members of the LGBTQ community due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The victim, 30-year-old Dominique Jackson, was shot and killed on Jan. 25 on Rose Street, in the city’s Poindexter Park Historic District.
Initial reports misgendered Jackson as a man, and police never released information on Jackson’s gender identity to the public — information that advocates say could be important to alerting the community of her death and potentially identifying her killer.
Instead, police referred to Jackson by her “deadname,” or the name by which she had previously been known but that did not reflect her true gender identity.
In fact, as reported by Jackson-area NBC affiliate WLBT, it was people at the news station — echoing complaints it had received from the local community — who informed the Jackson Police Department of Jackson’s gender identity.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Jackson is believed to be the fourth transgender or nonbinary person to be killed in the United States in 2o21, following a year when at least 44 trans Americans lost their lives to violence.
HRC notes that there may be more victims, but it’s difficult to keep track because victims are often misgendered, or, in some cases, the media never covers their deaths.
According to her Facebook page, Jackson was the Mother of the Hause of Redd and founder of The Ladi Redd Inc.
“Dominique’s life has been extinguished and her friends are devastated,” HRC’s State Director for Mississippi, Rob Hill, said in a statement. “Her family are devastated. And so many of Dominique’s friends are trans, Black women who are fearing for their lives, even more so than they were before.”
Hill told WLBT that more training is needed for police so they can ensure that the public is receiving critical information that can potentially help solve the case.
“It’s critical that law enforcement does everything that they can to be able to make sure that, that they have all of the aspects of a crime, especially if we suspect it is bias-motivated,” Hill said. “We still lack a lot of information around this case.”
Jackson Police have said there is no evidence to show Jackson’s murder was a hate crime. A police spokesman also said investigators have not made any arrests or determined a motive for the shooting at this time.
Even if the investigation reveals that Jackson was targeted because she was transgender, the perpetrator would not face additional penalties or a longer prison sentence, because Mississippi’s hate crime law does not include protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
For the past four legislative sessions, LGBTQ advocates have been pushing lawmakers to support a bipartisan bill, HB 353, which would have added LGBTQ protections to the state’s hate crime law.
But that bill, and similar measures in past years, have repeatedly been killed or failed to gain hearings in the Republican-dominated legislature.
“Black transgender women stand in an intersection where violence disproportionately targets them,” Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens told ABC affiliate WAPT in a statement. “Expansion of hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity would be a crucial tool in securing justice for these victims and survivors.”
“We just want the fact where laws like hate crime bills are being passed and stuff, including gender, sexual orientation and just disability alone could help the city to survive and to strive,” Laneyana Henderson, a friend of Jackson’s, told CBS affiliate WJTV at a vigil held in Jackson’s memory on Sunday.
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