The Canton, Mississippi LGBT community is mourning the loss of Mesha Caldwell who was well-known as a talented makeup artist and hair stylist. Caldwell, 41, is the first transgender to be murdered in the United States in the new year.
Caldwell, who was killed on January 4, is also believed to be the first tran killed in Mississippi in the last 12 months.
Police responding to a 911 call at 3:45 pm, found Caldwell’s body dumped in a roadway just outside the city limits of Canton.
According to Mississippi News Now, a coroner’s report listed the cause of death as “multiple gunshot wounds”.
Mic.com interviewed Mary Young, a longtime family friend, who described Caldwell as “beautiful” and said it was “painful” to see Caldwell misgendered as a man in early media reports.
The victim was born Omario Caldwell, but later identified as a transwoman.
“The first transgender to be killed in 2017 here in Mississippi, so close to Jackson, that really hits home,” said friend Keith Dupree.
Evonne Kaho, a fellow transgender and former roommate, told the Sun Herald that Caldwell was “a happy person who loved everyone and never met a stranger.”
Kaho said Caldwell was “always smiling” and “always had something good to say to everyone”.
Caldwell’s brother, Cedrick Caldwell, called for the killer to turn himself in.
“I feel like how you are going to kill a person and throw them out the car. That is the most heartbreaking thing. I feel like if you did it, hold up for it. If you were man enough to do it, be man enough to hold up for it,” he said.
HRC tracked 21 murders of transgender people nationally in 2016. Most of the victims were sex workers; 95 percent of the victims were black or people of color, and 86 percent were bio men who identified as transwomen.
More than half were victims of gun violence.