MEMPHIS, TN — The Memphis transgender community said they are walking in fear, especially after another transgender woman was killed in the Mid-South. Investigators said 25-year-old transgender woman, Marcal Camero Tye, was dragged and killed by a car early Tuesday morning along a highway near Forrest City, Arkansas. Now the FBI has joined the case.
The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center is not surprised at all. The center said the Mid-South has built a reputation of being an unsafe place for transgender women of color.
“I do not feel safe here,” said Reneka Evans a transgender woman living in Memphis.
She’s been this way for the past six years. Evans said she’s horrified whenever she remembers the police beating of Duanna Johnson, also a transgender woman, caught on surveillance video. Months later, Johnson was shot to death in North Memphis in 2008. In the past five years, four transgender women have been killed in the Mid-South. All of those cases are unsolved murders.
“I don’t feel very protected living here at all. I feel the police departments are viewing less of the lives of the transgender communities. The community itself has also lowered the value of the lives of the transgender individuals,” said Evans.
Executive Director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center Will Batts said talking about “accepting” others needs to start at church.
“I think that’s a big step, especially in the south where so many people turn to their churches for guidance and education,” Batts said.
Evans said she hopes more people will become aware of the transgender community and end the violence. “A lot has to do being open minded and letting individuals be themselves and everyone wants to be accepted, everyone wants to live their lives.”
FBI agents investigating the Forrest City murder said they have not ruled it a hate crime. They are looking at other motives. No arrests have been made.