DC activists outraged by police handling of transgender woman’s murder

DC activists outraged by police handling of transgender woman’s murder

A transgender woman living in Washington, D.C.  was shot in the neck on July 4, but the district’s trans community didn’t find out until police issued a release about her death on Thursday, according to the Washington Blade. Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Lashawin Dodds spent ten days on life support and died on Wednesday.

The young trans woman of color is believed to be the 15th transgender person murdered in 2016.

Community members and activists say that the police department’s failure to notify the transgender community makes it harder for them to stay safe and harbors distrust.

Sima Lee, a peer advocate at the Trauma Free DC coalition, posted on Facebook after the news broke saying that the local LGBTQ community had not been informed of the shooting.

But that’s not the only complaint. According to the Washington Blade, police also misgendered and misnamed the young woman, who was in her early 20s:

Similar to a police incident report prepared at the time of the shooting, the press release identifies the victim by her male birth name and doesn’t disclose that she was trans. However, unlike the incident report, the press release identifies an ‘AKA’ name [Also Known As] for the victim as Deeniqua Dodds.

The Washington Blade talked to Dodds’ family and said they initially asked the police to not release that the victim was transgender out of fear of reprisal from the killer, who is still at large. Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator, as they routinely do in homicide cases.

Police have not released information about a suspect or motive, but said the killing is not currently being considered a hate crime.

“We have no information to suggest the crime was motivated by hate, at this point,” Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told NBC.

Dodds’ family said she was a sex worker and that they was were concerned for her safety. HIPS, a group that supports youth engaged in sex work, said that the failure to release a timely and accurate report puts the trans community as risk, especially since the shooter is still on the loose. They released a statement calling on DC police to issue an apology to the community:

MPD’s failure to publically [sic] disclose information about Dodds’ case highlights a deeply troubling lack of concern for the lives of people who are transgender…

We believe that it is necessary for the MPD to work harder to ensure that individual officers are held accountable for actions that contribute to the marginalization and oppression of people in the LGBTQ+ community…

MPD should issue a formal apology for their negligence in handling Dodds’ case, as a small first step, to practice improved accountability. They should also work to develop ongoing training targeted toward trans-inclusivity.

Joeann Lewis, who raised Dodds, described her as beautiful person: “Loved to make you laugh. Loved to make you smile.”

A vigil will be held to honor Dodds, and to mourn the transgender women who have died so far this year, on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at 5355 Clay Terrace, N.E., near where Dodds was shot.

“Her murder reminds us all of how often the transgender community is targeted for violence in our society,” family friend Earline Budd said in a release. “The LGBTQ community encourages everyone to participate and show solidarity against hatred and violence.”

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