Florida is known for many things. Sunny beaches, Disney World, and being a place where everyone can relax. But recently, I read an article that stated Florida is now being known for the murders of five black LGBTQ+ members. As a Criminal Minds fanatic, the details of this case sound like something worthy of the BAU to investigate. However, the article continued that there has been no luck in suspects and with all members being LGBTQ+ and four of them being transgender women, the police are criticized to be slower in acting on this case than a series of murders with cisgender victims.
This is enraging activists so much that on August 2, a group of trans activists and an organization called Equality Florida held a town meeting to discuss how police officers misgender victims in police reports and how the investigation is continuing. The limited press coverage that this case is receiving focuses more on addressing the issue of officers releasing a statement misgendering a victim and less on the investigation’s success.
What this case brings to mind is the disparity between cases of LGBTQ+ people and of those who are cisgender and straight. Years of violence against the LGBTQ+ community have been aired out and known by the public for awhile now, but the number of unsolved gay murders still is worrying. In 2000, six transgender women were murdered and the murderer never found, the murderer of four gay men have never been caught, three more LGBTQ+ people were murdered and never had the perpetrator brought to justice, and one LGBTQ+ person was murdered in Prince George’s County, MD and the case remains open today. In 2002, two transgender women were shot and killed, but there has been no conviction. The D.C. police spokesperson stated that the police do not disclose a person’s sexual orientation and that these cases do not appear to be hate crimes, but upon further discussion with the victim’s families, all the victims are LGBTQ+. Within all the male victims, all but one are black. Devin Barrington-Ward, a president of Impulse Group D.C. that helps black gay men be educated and have a community, had a worrying comment to add on the investigation. ‘“Many of us feel very strongly that if these victims were white, that their cases would be solved and their killers brought to justice,” ‘
According to the Washington Post, about 26,000 murders have gone without an arrest in major cities. 18,600 of the victims were African American. Police are known to arrest someone in 63% of white homicides and 47% with black victims.
Further information reveals that of the total number of homicides in 2017, 71% of the victims were people of color. 60% were black, 8% were Latinx, 4% were Asian, and 2% were Native American. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a Crisis Report that identified three groups that are most impacted by violence against the LGBTQ+ community: cisgender men, transgender women of color, and people of color.
The point of all this information about the LGBTQ+ community and the black community is that those who are members of both are in trouble and always have been. Being in these two marginalized groups means that your case is less likely to be solved and for your identity to be remembered correctly. This new series of murders in Florida deserves more attention than it is getting, because if not, this case becomes like one of the thousands of cases involving black and LGBTQ+ people: unheard.