Another Memphis trans woman, Leeneshia Edwards, has been shot and is in a Memphis hospital in critical condition. This is the fourth hate-based shooting in less than three years (Duanna Johnson [November 2008], Ebony Whitaker [July 2008], Tiffany Berry [February 2006]) and Memphis is evidently now a very dangerous place for trans people.
Memphis, TN- A transgender woman shot in the face is in critical condition.
Police say the shooting happened sometime around 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 23, 2008 in the 3100 block of Boxtown Road in south Memphis near T.O. Fuller State Park. Leeneshia Edwards was last seen about an hour earlier at the “C.K.’s Coffee Shop” on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis.
Edwards, is now in critical condition at “The Med”. Her cousin tells us Edwards was shot in the jaw, side and back and is undergoing multiple surgeries.
“The detective said it looked like she was turning to get out of the car and the dude shot her at close range. I just hope when she wakes up she can remember who it was,” says Nicole Holliwell.
Apparently there were no witnesses.
Both the news reports I’ve linked are keen to point out that Ms Edwards apparently “worked as a prostitute”: this is troubling as it very conveniently sets up the victim-blaming trans panic defence (see also) for any attacker subsequently caught and charged.
Whatever Leeneshia Edwards did or didn’t do for a living is entirely irrelevant to this: any trans woman, regardless of occupation, does not deserve to be violently attacked for being either a sex worker or a trans woman. Living with intersectionalities is hard enough as it is, without having to factor in these additional risks.
And as Monica says over at TransGriot:
When the 110th Congress opens for business, as soon as an ENDA bill is filed, we need to demand that it not only include transgender people, but it be passed without delay.
(Curtsey to queenemily for the heads up)
ETA, 27 December: The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition has issued the following press release:
Another Transgender Woman Shot in Memphis
On Christmas Eve, a Memphis television station reported the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis. She becomes the third transgender woman shot in Memphis in just six months. At last report, Leeneshia is in critical condition. We extend our hopes and prayers to Leenashia for a speedy recovery.
We also ask for anyone with any information about this latest crime to call Memphis Crimes Stoppers at (901)528-CASH.
The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards helps shed light on a disturbing trend in Memphis. Transgender women who work in the sex industry in order to survive are now being targeted by a pervasive culture of violence.
The indifferent attitude of law enforcement towards the February 16, 2006, murder of Tiffany Berry, and the February 12, 2008, beating of Duanna Johnson by Memphis Police Department officers, has sent a message that the lives of transgender people are not important. This has fed the culture of violence that has permeated the second half of 2008, and is exemplified by the July 1 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the July 28 murder of Dre-Ona Blake, a two year old girl who was killed by the man who had previously been charged with the murder of Tiffany Berry, but was allowed to walk free for two and a half years, the November 9 murder of Duanna Johnson, and now the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.
This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.
We call on business people who refuse to hire transgender people to open their doors immediately to transgender workers so there are alternatives to working on the streets.
We call on shelters that routinely turn away transgender people who are seeking help, to open their doors so that transgender people do not have to live on the streets.
We call on religious leaders who preach intolerance towards crossdressers and transsexuals from the pulpit to cease immediately and begin preaching messages of love and acceptance of diversity.
We call on political leaders of all parties to stop campaigning against transgender people and start supporting fully inclusive employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to show that the lives of transgender people have value.
The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.
For more information, or to make a donation, contact: