This really gets old. On April 17 the decomposing body of transwoman Cemia Dove, 20, was found in a pond in Olmsted Township, near Cleveland. This is the third African American transwoman found murdered since the beginning of April.
The body was found tied to a concrete block and a steel pipe. It was also naked from the waist down. She had been stabbed to death.
As is typical, but nonetheless contrary to AP Stylesheet guidelines, Cemia was identified by her birth name in early reports and continually misgendered. Additionally, an old mug shot was attached to the newspaper stories and her past misdemeanor arrests became the story in some circles…rather than the fact that she was murdered.
Cemia was arrested in January of 2012 and pleaded no contest to a charge of “possession of dangerous drugs.” The dangerous drugs were hormones which she obtained on the black market without a prescription. She was sentenced to 100 days and a fine of $1000.
In a separate case she was charged with assault from spraying a man with mace while riding on a bus. Odds are it was self-defense.
GLAAD and the other groups said they have urged news media outlets to follow the Associated Press guidelines in covering the transgender community, which call for referring to transgender people by the gender with which they identify and by the name that reflects that gender.
–Lou Chibarro, Jr., Washington Blade
Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman spoke to a crowd of transpeople on May 1 (video at the link). The transfolk were protesting the disrespect Cemia was being posthumously subjected to. Cimperman declared that Dove’s murder should be treated as a hate crime.
Cemia lived a trouble life of acceptance[sic]. While Cemia struggled, she did not deserve to die as what is likely a hate crime. Too often we lose loved ones because of fear or hate. Violence should not be tolerated against anyone regardless of race, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
–Councilman Joe Cimperman
Cemia had been reported missing on March 27. A nearby resident spotted something in the pond, which divers discovered to be Cemia’s body.
The Olmsted Township Police Department has been working around the clock on this investigation, and will continue to diligently pursue all leads. I have dedicated two senior members of the department (Lt. Vanyo and Det. Sonneborn) to this investigation. Since this is an active investigation, we cannot comment any further on any details pertaining to this investigation.
–Police Chief John Minek
Police have not asked for help in finding the killer.
The violent death of this young woman is unconscionable and needs to be addressed. This is the third transgender woman of color murdered in April in the U.S. alone and this needs to stop.
–Jacob Nash, Cleveland Transgender Community Outreach Committee Chair
Not one report stated police are asking for assistance or seeking help in finding her killer. The murder was a heinous crime, the mis-gender identification by news media organizations who have not taken the time to learn how to report on issues related to transgender people is offensive.
—David Badash, New Civil Rights Movement blog