CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland City Council member has called on authorities to investigate as a hate crime the death of a 20-year-old transgender woman whose body was found in a northeastern Ohio pond in April and identified this week.
Twenty-year-old Cemia Dove of Cleveland was reported missing March 27, according to The Plain Dealer. Her partially clothed body, tethered to a concrete block, was found in an Olmstead Township pond on April 17.
“She did not deserve to die as what is likely a hate crime,” Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman said in a news release quoted by WEWS-TV. “Too often we lose loved ones because of fear or hate. Violence should not be tolerated against anyone regardless of race, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”
BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, also called Dove’s death a hate crime and noted that it’s the third time this year in the United States that a transwoman of color has been murdered.
BRAVO said there were 111 hate crimes documented in 2011 in Ohio against LGBT people. Federal hate-crimes law was expanded in 2009 to include acts of violence against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Nationally, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented 30 murders against LGBT people in 2011, the highest total it has ever recorded. Transgender women and LGBT people of color were most often victimized.
Dove, born Carl Acoff Jr., had had a series of run-ins with police from Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority. Readers reacted angrily toward The Plain Dealer for focusing much of its coverage of Dove’s death on those troubles, which the paper said included once identifying herself verbally to authorities as a woman and later acknowledging to them that her identification listed her as a male.
The Plain Dealer’s initial story referred to Dove using male pronouns, but it was later changed. The initial headline referred to Dove as an “oddly dressed body.”
Gloria McCauley, executive director of BRAVO, said she was “outraged at the media’s flagrant disregard for human dignity.”