A police department in Texas is asking for the public’s help with any information related to the suspicious death of a transgender woman who was found dead in the Port Arthur Canal in March.
The Beaumont Police Department has taken over the investigation into the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old trans woman who was known to be a transient, and frequented the area around College and Fourth Streets in Beaumont.
Evans was last seen by family in February, but was not reported missing until after her body was found in a canal in the 3700 block of Savannah Avenue in Port Arthur, Texas.
After initially classifying her death as “suspicious,” the first autopsy was inconclusive and Evans’ relatives have since requested a second autopsy in the hope of gaining closure.
Police now believe that Evans may have been the victim of foul play and may have been killed in Beaumont, reports CBS affiliate KDFM.
Police are asking anyone with information about Evans, her acquaintances, or the events that preceded her death, to call them at 409-832-1234, or to submit an anonymous tip via Southeast Texas Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS (8477) or via the P3 tips app.
Lois Balka, Evans’ grandmother, told ABC affiliate KBMT in a March interview that even though she and her grandchild sometimes clashed, she still wishes Evans were alive. She also questions whether Evans’ identity as a trans woman may have played a role in her death.
“This is heartbreaking, I don’t care what nobody has to say. Nobody should have this. Nobody — no parent should have to go through this,” Balka said. “Regardless of what you was, I still love you, and I wish you were here. Even though sometimes we didn’t get along, I wish you were here with me. You will always be in my heart.”
See Also: Transgender man shot to death in Lynchburg, Virginia
In an interview with Metro Weekly, Andrea Segovia, the policy and field coordinator for the Transgender Education Network of Texas, criticized police and initial media reports that either misgendered or “deadnamed” Evans using her assigned name at birth, noting that it’s important to refer to a trans person by their preferred name and pronouns.
Regarding the investigation, Segovia said it makes more sense for the Beaumont Police Department to take on the case, because they are a bigger police department and are likely to have more resources or experience dealing with the transgender community.
Such partnerships with larger cities or police departments are common when dealing with anti-LGBTQ crimes in smaller cities or rural areas of the state, she noted. She also noted that there is also a possibility that the FBI could get involved at a later point in the investigation — particularly if officials wish to pursue federal hate crime charges — gender identity is not protected under Texas’ hate crime law — against any suspects in Evans’ death.
But Segovia also said blamed hostility towards transgender people — especially from the state’s political class — for contributing to an atmosphere where transgender Texans are at risk of losing their lives to bias-motivated violence.
“We’re so used to hearing legislators say, ‘I don’t know a trans person in my district. They’re not there. It’s only in major cities.’ That’s a lie. It’s typically that somebody who is trans, maybe isn’t visibly trans or is fluid in their presentation, and it’s typically because of safety [concerns],” Segovia said.
“When you have state leadership, and local municipalities, and people in power that are constantly sort of saying, ‘Trans people don’t belong here, trans people shouldn’t be here. And if they don’t like the mindset, then they can go,’ it kind of gives this ‘okay’ [signal] to everybody else that says ‘If I see a trans person and I don’t like it, then like I can do what I feel necessary,’ because we still have trans panic defense in the state.”
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