India Clarke, 25, was found dead in a Tampa park on Tuesday after suffering blunt force trauma to her upper body, according to police. They are investigating the killing as a murder.
India is at least the ninth confirmed transgender woman of color lost to homicide this year in the United States. She is the second confirmed transgender woman of color murdered this year in Florida.
In the wake of her death, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and some press outlets have repeatedly misidentified India by her former name and misgendered her as a man, even after being corrected by members of the public and media.
In an exchange with Buzzfeed, police said they “don’t have any indication” that Clarke’s gender identity was a factor in her murder. Asked why not, a police spokesman said:
Because of his prior prostitution and drug activity, we feel this may be more related. There were other circumstance around the crime scene that I am not at liberty to discuss that leads us to believe this is more related to drugs or prostitution. There is absolutely nothing to indicate any other motive at this time.
Due to the pervasive discrimination that they face in their everyday lives, transgender women, and especially transgender women of color, suffer from disproportionately high rates of unemployment, social isolation, mental illness, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and physical violence.
Much of the discrimination stems from the refusal of many to honor transgender and gender nonconforming identities. In light of these facts, it is unconscionable to SAVE that investigators would refuse to consider India's identity in life as a potential factor in her murder. Furthermore, the persistence in misgendering India despite the reality is inexcusable.
The murder of transgender Americans needs to stop. The refusal to acknowledge and respect their identities needs to end -- and the only way it will happen is by engaging our neighbors one-on-one to change hearts and minds in favor of equality and acceptance.
This Saturday, SAVE continues its effort to reduce transgender prejudice in South Florida with a door-to-door community engagement canvass at Barry University.
Will you join us? The only way to end the violence against transgender Americans is to get involved NOW. Click here to sign up. >>
Transgender Prejudice Reduction Canvass
THIS SATURDAY, July 25, 9AM-3PM
Barry University, Thompson Hall, Room #230
11300 NE 2nd Ave