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Advocacy group says deaths of two Ohio transgender women were ‘hate crimes’

Advocacy group says deaths of two Ohio transgender women were ‘hate crimes’

Ohio’s LGBT community is mourning the deaths of two transgender women in Cleveland last week, and officials of a statewide LGBT advocacy group are calling the deaths hate crimes.

Betty Skinner, 52, was found dead Thursday morning in her apartment by a home-health aide, and Brittany Nicole Kidd Stergis, 22, was found dead in a car early Friday.

Betty Skinner
Betty Skinner

Brittany Stergis
Brittany Stergis

Skinner was beaten to death, according to WKYC-TV. Stergis was shot in the head, reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

They are the second and third transgender women killed in northeastern Ohio this year.

Cemia “CeCe” Dove, 20, was killed in January and her body was discovered in a suburban Cuyahoga County pond in April. Her killer was sentenced to life in prison in November.

Cleveland police told The Plain Dealer that there’s no indication the latest killings are related, but BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, didn’t hesitate to call the killings hate crimes.

“It is likely that both Betty and Brittany Nicole were targeted based on other’s perception of their gender identity and expression,” said Aaron Eckhardt, training and technical assistance director for the statewide group that addresses anti-LGBT violence.

Jacob Nash, former executive director of TransFamily, a transgender support group in Cleveland, told WKYC that the most recent deaths should be cause for concern in Cleveland, which expects about 30,000 LGBT and allied visitors next August when it hosts the 9th international Gay Games.

“I hate to put it out there, but with the gay games coming next year, the whole world is watching,” Nash said.

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