Dee Whigham was 25 years old. A registered nurse, she worked at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This past weekend, Dee traveled with some friends to the Biloxi region to attend the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo.
Tragically, Dee was murdered Saturday in the hotel room she shared with a friend, stabbed to death.
Police have arrested 20 year old Navy recruit Dwanya Hickerson after video footage allegedly showed him leaving the hotel. He is facing charges of capital murder and robbery. Hickerson is originally from New Orleans. No motive has been shared with the public as of yet.
The Advocate points out that while some reports misgendered Dee, the Gulf Coast Sun Herald covered this story with respect and accuracy. That’s an important small step. Respect, fairness and accuracy are important to help our nation understand exactly what is happening in this epidemic of violence and why.
Dee’s murder adds her to a growing list of trans neighbors who have been slaughtered in our nation, she’s at least the 16th person murdered this year alone who identified as transgender. What some have described as an unrelenting tide of violence, a terrible play on words of Mississippi tradition, but one that is not without some degree of accuracy. As all eyes to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics, will we see any mention of the even more horrendous violence in that country, possibly among the most deadly places in the world for transgender residents?
Dee’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help with her burial expenses. Please note that her family uses male pronouns to reference her on this appeal. It is also important to note that Dee’s sister is the person who corrected early misgendering reports by the media.
I’ve written over 50 blog posts about individual murders. I don’t even know how many I’ve blogged about. But I do see their faces in my dreams sometimes and certainly when I’m writing a post like this one. I see the photos that I’ve used, I think about the experiences of flipping through someone’s Facebook albums to find an image to share. I think about the images that go viral in memes and the ones that do not. I think about my sisters and brothers and neighbors often. Sometimes, I’ve lived in their hometowns, too. Or I visited or have a friend who lives there. Or think about how close the location is to Pittsburgh.
And I wonder when it will be Pittsburgh in the news. Are we doing enough? No. Do we have the resources to keep people safe? No. Can we count on our media to provide solid coverage? No.
I suppose my anger is muddied by sadness today. Dee did all of the things she was ‘supposed’ to do – college, a good job with a career ahead of her, took care of her mom, worked a second job, had friends and interests and activities. Her sin was her existence as a trans woman of color.
God help us all for our inability to properly acknowledge and address this hideous misperception on our parts.
So we don’t forget those whom we’ve lost to these epidemics in 2016
- Monica Loera – Austin, Texas (January 22)
- Jasmine Sierra – Bakersfield, California (January 22)
- Kayden Clarke – Mesa, Arizona (February 4)
- Maya Young – Philadelphia (February 20)
- Suspicious death of Veronica Cano – San Antonio (February 20)
- Demarkis Stansberry – Baton Rouge (February 27)
- Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson – Burlington, Iowa (March 2)
- Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum (Kourtney Yochum) – Los Angeles (March 22)
- Shante Thompson – Houston (April 9)
- Keyonna Monroe Blackeney – Rockville, MD (April 16)
- Reecey Walker – Wichita (May 1)
- Mercedes Successful – Haines City, FL (May 15)
- Amos Beede (Burrlington, VT), 38 years old
- Goddess Diamond (New Orleans, LA), 20 years old
- Dee Dee Dodds (Washington D.C.), 22 years old
- Dee Whigham (Biloxi, Mississippi), 25 years old
Rest in power, Dee.