Celine Walker was 36 years old when she died in a Florida motel room from a gunshot wound. She died on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
She is the 4th transgender woman, the 3rd trans woman of color, and the second Black trans woman that we know of to be killed in 2018 in the United States. She is also the second Black trans woman who was killed THIS WEEK.
Misgendering and deadnaming by the local police and local media delayed notification of the community by nearly a week. These are frequent choices by law enforcement and journalists – to use inaccurate information. It is reprehensible practice.
In this case, the excuse is particularly egregious.
Blogger Monica Roberts from TransGriot:
Walker, who was from Brandon, FL , was found shot to death in a room at the Extended Stay America on Skinner Lake Drive near St John Town Center. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called to the location after Walker’s body was found at 8 PM EST Sunday.
The reason the media has misgendered her is because it started with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, who is claiming they have a policy that does not refer to victims as transgender.
No policy? What does that even mean? How do you not have a policy to include accurate facts in your paperwork? That’s some pretty shady rationalization there. We knew she was a trans woman, but we didn’t have a checkbox so we just changed the facts to suit our forms.
Naomi Michaels, a Jacksonville friend of Celine’s shared these thoughts on Facebook:
Celine was not a pageant girl. She didn’t even enjoy going to gay clubs or events. She lived a low key life where she did whatever needed to be done in order for her to survive.
There are several parts of this story that disturb me very much. One is that Jacksonville is home to some of the most amazingly talented Transwomen I know. That being said you’d think that this city could have some type of policy for dealing with the death and murder of transpeople. They don’t.
In addition to mourning the death of her friend and worrying about her own safety and welfare, Naomi has taken on the task of settings things right by urging people to contact local news outlets and file complaints with the police department. Good on her, but what a terrible additional burden while grieving. We need as a community of allies to be more proactive in demanding respect for our trans siblings before their deaths.
There is no word yet on final arrangements or vigils.
Rest in power, Celine. You deserved a peaceful life and you certainly deserve respect and dignity in death, no matter the circumstances. I hope knowing that so many people care to seek justice and accuracy for you brings your loved ones a measure of peace.
Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
The list of trans people killed in 2018 thus far. Note that people have different numbers based on different factors. The most important thing that unites us all is that we want the violence to stop. We need to keep asking ‘Where is the outrage?’ During 2017, we lost at least 25 trans neighbors. May 2018 be more merciful.
- Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
- Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
- Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
- Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
Beyond sharing this post, please take some time to invest in the trans community in your region. Use google, Facebook, Twitter to find organizations led by trans folks and listen to what they are asking from you.