The death of Cemia Dove, also known as Ci Ci, a transgender woman from Ohio, has been noted as a “likely” hate crime by a local councillor.

Dove, originally identified by police by her birth name, Carl Acoff, was reported missing on 27 March.

Her body was found on 17 April in Olmstead Township near Cleveland. She had been stabbed to death and left in a pond with a cinder block and a steel pipe tied to her waist. Advanced decomposition suggested she had been dead for several weeks.

The transgender flag was flown from the top of Cleveland City Hall on 1 May as a sign of remembrance and solidarity, while local transgender rights supporters gathered in front of the building.

Among them was Cleveland City Councilor Joe Cimperman, who called for Dove’s murder to be treated as a hate crime.

“While Cemia struggled, she did not deserve to die as what is likely a hate crime,” he said. “Too often we lose loved ones because of fear or hate. Violence should not be tolerated against anyone regardless of race, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

Cleveland Transgender Community Outreach Committee Chair Jacob Nash said: “The violent death of this young woman is unconscionable and needs to be addressed. Ci Ci was someone’s child, but the perpetrator of this horrific crime could not see that. I am sure all they saw was someone who was different and trying to live their life the best they knew how.

“This is the third transgender woman of color murdered in April in the US alone and this needs to stop,” he added. “We need to break down the barriers and accept people for who they are, regardless, and stop the violence.”

GLAAD have taken up the case of local news source, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which covered Dove’s death in a way that has been described as “dehumanizing”.

The Plain Dealer referred to Dove’s body as “it”, and described her in a headline as an “Oddly dressed man” (later changed to “Oddly dressed body”), among other insulting errors.

GLAAD is urging Plain Dealer staff to meet with advocates for training on how to cover transgender issues in future.

Laurel Ramseyer of the influential Pam’s House Blend blog said: “Violence against transgender people is at epidemic levels in the United States, with transgender African-Americans one of the hardest-hit subpopulations.  Pieces of dehumanizing garbage like these articles in the Plain Dealer… only feed the flames of hatred and abuse.”