Tiffany Edwards (photo from WLWT-TV, Cincinnati)
Tiffany Edwards (photo from WLWT-TV, Cincinnati)

By Outlook Ohio

A 28-year-old transgender woman was found dead Thursday morning in the middle of a Cincinnati street.

Tiffany Edwards had been shot to death, according to news reports, which said her body was discovered about 8 a.m. Thursday by a city sanitation driver.

BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, said it believes the murder was hate-motivated and that Edwards was targeted based on perception of her gender identity and expression. Cincinnati Police said Friday night that they’re looking for a suspect named Quamar Edwards, who is not related to Tiffany Edwards.

“BRAVO is saddened and outraged as our communities continue to be targeted,” Executive Director Gloria McCauley said in a statement.

Edwards’ aunt told WLWT-TV in Cincinnati that she also wonders if her niece, who came out as transgender at age 14, was killed because of her gender identity.

“Tiffany was Tiffany. Our family accepted Tiffany for Tiffany. … Tiffany was love. Tiffany gave love,” Edwards’ aunt told WLWT.

Aaron Eckhardt, BRAVO training and technical assistance director said it’s the fourth killing nationwide this month of a transgender woman of color. A 2013 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that transgender people were the victims in half the hate-crime killings of LGBT people, and people of color are the victims  in 75 percent of the killings.

Edwards’ death is the fourth murder of a transgender woman in Ohio in the past 18 months, and the third murder of a young transgender woman of color:

• Cemia “CeCe” Dove, 20, was killed in January 2013 and her body was found three months later in a pond outside Cleveland. Andrey Bridges, 36, was convicted in November and sentenced to life in prison.

• Betty Skinner, 52, was found dead in her Cleveland apartment in December by a home health worker.

• Nicole Kidd Stergis, 22, was found dead in a car in Cleveland, also in December. She had been beaten to death. Delshawn Carroll, 19, was arrested and charged with aggravated murder earlier this month.

“The brutality and violence we see being committed against trans communities of color is real. It’s happening in our own cities, in our own state. This violence needs to end. Trans lives matter,” Shane Morgan, said founder and chair of TransOhio.

Vicky Blum, outreach director at Crossport, a Cincinnati support organization for transgender people and their families, said the transgender community in Southwest Ohio was just learning about the murder.

She repeated a message she said she gave at a Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony in Cincinnati last fall.

“Why don’t you let us lead our lives? Why do you have to bully us? Why do you have to assault us?”

McCauley said the latest killing underscores the need for discussion and action on hate crimes against LGBT people. Ohio’s hate-crimes law does not cover crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Sadly, we know that hate-crime violence in its many forms are intended to instill the message of hate and fear throughout the entire community. Hate crimes largely go under-reported, or not reported at all, and people are left with restoring their sense of safety and security on their own.”