A 23-year-old woman that police say was found dead at Orchard Beach in the Bronx on the morning on August 31 was transgender, according to news reports as well as to the confused manner in which the NYPD described its discovery of the death.
Police found the woman unconscious and unresponsive in the sand near Orchard Beach Road and Park Drive at approximately 6:09 a.m. EMS responders arrived shortly thereafter and pronounced the individual dead.
There are very few additional details surrounding the circumstances of the victim’s death. An investigation is underway and the NYPD is awaiting a cause of death from the medical examiner.
Investigation underway as officials await cause of death from medical examiner
Police identified the individual as a woman but appeared to deadname her with a male first name in an email. However, a spokesperson representing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner subsequently told Gay City News that the individual was known as Ellie Williams. In a GoFundMe apparently posted by the victim in July, they identified as Elie Che and described themselves as a “Black trans woman.” An individual who said they were a friend of the victim contacted Gay City News to say they victim used the pronoun they/ them.
The victim resided in Manhattan, according to the NYPD. The police did not immediately respond to an email seeking clarification about the individual’s gender identity, but NBC New York reported that the person was a transgender woman.
Out gay Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, who is well on his way to Congress after winning his Democratic primary in June, responded to the news with a call to action to stand up for trans individuals.
“We continue to live in a society that brutally devalues trans lives, often with murderous consequences,” Torres said in a tweet. “All of us must do our part in fighting institutional transphobia.”
The case marks yet another violent death of a transgender woman just over a month after Tiffany Harris, a Black trans woman, was fatally stabbed inside an apartment building at 2575 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. In another case stemming from March, a 33-year-old trans woman named Lexi was stabbed to death in East Harlem. Two transgender women from New York City were killed in April when they were visiting Puerto Rico.
At least 26 known transgender, gender non-conforming or non-binary individuals have suffered violent deaths so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. There were 27 such deaths in all of last year.
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