Black transgender woman found 'burned beyond recognition' in Florida, officials say
LGBTQ rights have come a long way in the U.S. But the community still faces threats in the form of legalization, discrimination and even violence. USA TODAY
The body of black transgender woman was found burned in a car in Florida, and advocates say she is the 18th known transgender person to be killed this year.
Hendry County Sheriff's authorities told the Palm Beach Post Bee Love Slater, 23, was found "burned beyond recognition" in Clewiston, Florida on Sept. 4. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, according to the Post.
Captain Susan Harrelle of the Hendry County Sheriff’s department told the Miami Herald that Slater's death will not be classified as a hate crime until they can "clearly prove" a motive.
Friends released pink balloons at a candlelight vigil for Slater last Friday. Dezmond Bass, 26, who attended the vigil called Slater "a bundle of joy."
"It just hurt me to see that that could happen to her," Bass told USA TODAY. "I didn't want this swept under rug. I needed to make sure everyone knew what happened to her."
Jackson Jacksonn, who met Slater four years ago, said she had been threatened on social media and was planning on leaving the city, but someone "got her before she was able to make her move."
Although Jackson doesn't believe her death was a hate crime, he expressed frustration at the slow police response.
"How can a murder of this magnitude in such a small town happen and nobody knows nothing?" he asked. "There’s something wrong with that picture."
Slater died the same week that Bailey Reeves, a 17-year-old black transgender teen was shot and killed in Baltimore, according to Human Rights Campaign. In June, the American Medical Association called violence against transgender people of color an “epidemic.”
“Our society needs to work to ensure transpeople can live without fear,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said on Facebook in response to Slater’s death.
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg