By Victoria Michaels
Ft Myers, FL — The gruesome discovery of trans-woman Yazmin Shancez burned to death and disposed of behind a dumpster last week sent shock waves throughout the LGBT community and abroad in southwest Florida as over 200 gather for her memorial Sunday.
On Friday, Ft Myers Police identified the victim as Eddie James Owen, 31, but family members said Owen identified as a female and went by the name Yazim Sanchez. The report states police uncovered the burnt charred remains of Shancez who apparently had been shot, murdered, set on fire, and tossed behind a garbage bin at a rental facility located at 2807 Fowler Street.
According to Naples News, http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2014/jun/20/fort-myers-pd-burn-victim-identified-transgender-w/ Fort Myers Police Lt. Jay Rodriguez went on record as saying that the police have not determined a cause of death, and are not investigating the homicide as a hate crime. “We have no indication at this time to say this was specifically done because it was a male living as a female or anything like that,” Rodriguez said. “If you really think about it, a hate crime is killing someone for a specific reason, being black, hispanic, or gay. We’re investigating as we would any other homicide.”
It's difficult to comprehend why Lt Rodriguez is on record for saying that they aren't investigating this as a hate crime. To die a tortuous death is beyond criminal. It's disgusting, abominable, and just plain "hateful!" Killing someone because they are transgender isn't specific enough reason to constitute a hate crime? Do you normally see homicides that result in the burning of an already dead body and then dumping it behind a waste bin like it's worthless garbage in Ft Myers? Is this a homicide pattern that the rest of us are oblivious too?
It would seem Officer Rodriguez not only lacks public relations training, but also the anti-LGBT homicide statistics and should have utilized his fifth amendment right to just remain silent. Why not just report the facts on what happened to this poor woman and seek justice? Making assumptions that this has nothing to do with Sanchez's gender is unreasonable and the misgendering of Sanchez by the police department in the media only cements the idea that Lt Rodriguez is clueless.
Let's not loose sight of the facts here. In 2013, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) reported that 13 of 18 documented anti-LGBT homicides were transgender women and 89 percent of the victims were women of color. Transgender women, particularly transgender women of color face the most violence against them. This is the everyday reality of every transgender person and that the statistics of violence against them - against us - and against you - compare more closely to combat than to anything resembling life for the rest of us.
This is just another classic case and sad reminder of the reality that transgender people are still marginalized and stigmatized in our society and continue to be misrepresented and shamefully portrayed by law enforcement in the media today.
As a transwoman myself, I often stay home alone because I'm just afraid of people in general after having authored enough bad experiences over the past 10 years and hearing all of the names and stories told annually at Transgender Day Of Remembrance Society is so quick to jump to the assumption when a transgender person is found murdered and burned that we deserve it for walking the streets and tricking men into believing that we are women. It's outrageous! It's as if society can't fathom that we transgender people are humans beings too, and that perhaps from time to time we just might need to do laundry, buy groceries, and we maybe even like to go to a movie every once in a while.