Another transgender woman has been shot in Memphis, becoming the third transgender shooting victim in the city in just six months.
Campaigners have blamed the murders on a lack of job opportunities for transgender people, saying that some have no option other than working on the streets where they are at risk from attacks.
Leeneshia Edwards was shot in the face, side and back in the ‘box town’ area of the city last week and is recovering in hospital. Her family have said she worked as a prostitute.
Her shooting follows the murders of Duanna Johnson and Ebony Whitaker, transgender women who also worked as prostitutes.
Ms Johnson was found dead from gunshot wounds in north Memphis on Sunday, November 9th. At the time of her death she had been considering suing the Memphis Police Department over an incident in which a video tape showed her being beaten by two officers.
In July, Ms Whitaker’s body was found by a daycare worker in Whitebrook Plaza, south-east Memphis. Members of her family said they believed she was shot by a customer who became angry on discovering
she was transgender. As yet her killer has not been found.
Transgender campaigner Casey Lanham has said some transgender people in the city have no choice but to turn to prostitution as employers will not hire them.
He told My Eyewitness News: “It’s very common. We’ve had several people that have had to do that
at least for sometime to make a living.
“A lot of times an employer will be up front and say ‘I don’t hire people like you’ and other times you don’t hear why, we just don’t get jobs.
“We want the employers to realise when we are given half a chance we have a lot to contribute to our community and our society.”
Mr Lanhan’s comments were echoed by the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, which has called on Memphis to support the rights of transgender people.
In a statement, president Marisa Richmond said businesses which refuse to hire transgender people should open their doors to offer them an alternative to working on the streets.
She added: “This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.”