It’s a grim first that has gone unacknowledged by law enforcement and media.
Dana Martin is the first known transgender person of 2019 to be murdered in the U.S. The 31-year-old Hope Hull resident was found shot to death in Montgomery, Alabama Sunday night.
Police identified her as male. Local media consequently followed suit. Monica Roberts of the blog TransGriot first broke word of her death on Twitter.
Being advised by Daroneshia Duncan of Birmingham that we may have our first trans murder of 2019. 31 year old Dana Martin was found shot to death in her car.
And yep, Martin was misgendered by WFSA-TV in Montgomery, AL#TransLivesMatter
— Monica Roberts (@TransGriot) January 8, 2019
“It’s clear that she was a woman,” said Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, founder of Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering. Duncan-Boyd said she met Martin several times with her friends. “She was a person that was loved by many, and you can see it all over Facebook.”
Most of Martin’s Facebook page is set to private, so messages from friends are not publicly visible. But all of her Facebook photos dating back nine years show her presenting as female.
Shonta Dillard, a longtime friend, also confirmed to INTO that Martin was transgender.
“That’s a sister, even though she’s not here to defend herself,” said Duncan-Boyd. “We still have a community in loss that is willing to defend her…The justice system doesn’t know how to handle situations where trans folks are murdered. They always misgender, and when they misgender, it knocks the data off.”
Last year, ProPublica examined law enforcement response to transgender homicides from 2015 through August 2018 and found that in 74 of 85 cases, agencies misgendered victims in death.
Transgender people have faced an unprecedented wave of violence in the past two years. Last year saw 26 transgender people murdered in the U.S., and 2017 reported the highest number of trans homicides on record with 29. An overwhelming number of the victims are Black transgender women.
According to an MPD statement released to INTO, police and fire medics responded to a call for a vehicle crash at the 3900 block of Brewer Road at 11 pm Sunday.
“At the scene, they located a vehicle in the ditch line,” police said. “In the vehicle, they located Martin, the driver, who had sustained a fatal gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Asked if MPD was aware the victim identified as transgender, Public Information Officer Regina Duckett said that legal documents identified the victim as male.
“How a homicide victim identifies is a personal matter that becomes relevant to the investigation only if it is determined that it was a reason the victim was killed,” Duckett said in an email. “At this point, the circumstances of this homicide are unknown, and MPD will continue to pursue all leads and avenues for prosecution.”
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