Within a span of two weeks, two transgender women who were sex workers have been killed in hotel rooms in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Days after officers found 29-year-old Jaida Peterson shot to death at the Quality Inn on the west side of Charlotte, authorities at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said on April 15 that they discovered Remy Fennel, a 28-year-old female victim shot to death in a hotel room at a Sleep Inn at 8525 North Tryon Street, which is in northeast Charlotte. Authorities misgendered the victim in an initial press release.
The police department has classified both cases as homicides. Rob Tufano, a spokesperson for the police department, said in a press conference that the cases are similar, but he’s unsure whether they are connected.
“They are consistent enough,” Tufano said. “It has gotten our attention, and it needs to get the attention of the community.”
The pair of murders follow the 2019 death of Chanel Scurlock, a Black trans woman who was fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, and Monika Diamond, a Black trans woman who was killed in Charlotte last year.
Despite the growing violence against trans people in the US — including cases in North Carolina — Tufano said “this isn’t something we see frequently, something we rarely see.”
Lieutenant Stephen Fischbach of the police department told Gay City News that authorities do not know of a specific motive, but said everything is being considered.
LGBTQ advocates are calling on officials to dismantle anti-trans violence in the state. Both cases contribute to the rising death toll of transgender Americans during a year when more than a dozen known transgender people have been killed violently this year.
Amid the pair of attacks, Charlotte Uprising, a social justice advocacy group, is rallying to fundraise for safe housing for Black trans women. However, advocates are skeptical of the latest response from authorities.
“Two Black trans women have recently been murdered in similar manners, and CMPD believes there may be a connection between the two,” the group said in a written statement on Twitter.
The group added, “The police are pretending to care.”
Earlier in the week, Ash Williams, an organizer for the organization and member of the House of Kanautica, told Gay City News that authorities frequently misgender and deadname transgender victims despite LGBTQ sensitivity training. Now, advocates and the local trans community are taking it into their own hands. But, so far, they are struggling to clarify the victims’ identity.
“The girls that I know aren’t sure who it could be right now,” Williams wrote in a text message to Gay City News.
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