Jaida Peterson, who was Black and transgender, was found dead in a hotel room in North Carolina on Sunday, April 4. But it took time for the transgender community to be aware of her passing because she was misgendered and deadnamed in local media.
Police arrived at a hotel in Charlotte that day at 1:45 p.m. and found the 29-year-old unresponsive. They called a medic who pronounced her dead at the scene.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has not said how she died but her death has been classified as a homicide.
Planet Transgender notes that the original story on Peterson’s death in the Charlotte Observer misgendered her and deadnamed her. An update on the Observer article says that that was the name they were given by police and that they later corrected the article when her friends reached out to them.
Charlotte Uprising, a Black-led prison abolition organization, worked with her family to raise funds and get her body back to South Carolina. A vigil was held on April 9 to remember her, and another was held in South Carolina yesterday.
“You are going to be truly missed and once again we love you always,” Peterson’s sister posted to social media.
“Her life should never have been cut short,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper. “We need everyone to speak up, affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter and take action now in order to end this violence. Jaida had family, friends and a community who cared about her and loved her, and our hearts go out to them.”
HRC said that at least 14 trans or non-binary people have been violently killed so far this year, stressing that there may be more.
Peterson highlights the difficulty in finding out about transgender people who are killed. If her friends didn’t see that she was misgendered and deadnamed in local media, the wider transgender community might not have found out about her death.
Police are investigating Peterson’s death and are asking anyone who has information to call 704-432-TIPS.