The transgender community in Louisiana, is alarmed after the unrelated murders of three male-to-transgender people there.
Chyna Gibson and Ciara McElveen were murdered within 48 hours of each other in New Orleans.
Gibson, 31, was shot multiple times in the parking lot outside a shopping center on Feb. 25.
On Feb. 27, Ciara McElveen was stabbed multiple times by a male driving a late model car, possibly a Camaro, in the 1700 block of Columbus Street.
“Dude came around to the passenger side and I see a knife in his hand,” a witness told Nola.com. “I’m thinking he’s about to stab (the victim) but, apparently, he already stabbed (the victim) in the car. Then he pulled (the victim) out by (the victim’s) head and slammed (the victim’s) face to the ground. Then he pulled off.”
McElveen, 25, was the sixth reported death of a transgender person in 2017.
“I’ve been frightened, but not like this before,” said Imani Dupree, a male-to-transgender resident of New Orleans.
A week earlier, Jaquarrius Holland was killed in another Louisiana town. All three victims were black and wore stereotypical feminine clothing and accessories.
The transgender community is concerned that the murders aren’t given the same priority as non-transgender deaths.
The three murders are part of a national trend. In 2016, a record 23 transgender people were killed around the country. Most of the murders have gone unsolved.
“When you can’t be valued for simply who you are then that sets up a situation where people think they can do anything to you,” said Beverly Tillery.
Tillery, who works with the New York City Anti-Violence Project, says the political climate and public debate over bathroom access is making trans people feel less safe.
Most of the victims were sex workers, an extremely dangerous occupation for men who impersonate women.
“What scares me the most is that people will feel like they can get away with these things and nothing will be done about it,” Dupree said.
“How many more people have to be killed before something is done about it?” Dupree added.