A transgender woman in Mississippi was hospitalised after being shot in the leg in a suspected hate crime incident.
The 22-year-old victim was shot by a stranger during an altercation at a Waffle House in Southaven, Mississippi on Friday (May 10).
The victim was targeted with anti-transgender abuse inside the restaurant, according to reports, before being shot in the leg in the parking lot while attempting to leave.
23-year-old Jimtarius Hampton of Memphis has been charged with aggravated assault over the incident.
Federal Hate crime charges are being considered
Police told local media that federal hate crime charges are also being considered.
Southaven Police captain Mark Little told WMC5: “SPD will consult with the district attorney’s office next week for a recommendation.”
A friend of the victim told the outlet: “It’s just a hate crime. That’s all I can tell you. It was a hate crime and she was targeted for being transgender.
“She was shot in her leg, both of her legs. And the bullets went through her leg and broke her femur.
“She’s gonna be okay. She’s got to have surgery. She’s gonna get a rod and a plate put in her leg.”
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Mississippi has no LGBT+ hate crime law
However, state law does not recognise hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Lawmakers in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature have repeatedly killed bills to add hate crime protections for LGBT+ people, most recently in February this year.
Federal charges can be brought in anti-LGBT hate crime cases, however, under a law signed by Barack Obama in 2009.
Police misgendered shooting victim in initial report
Police and local media in the case had initially incorrectly identified the victim of the shooting as a man, local media reports.
In 2018, an investigation found that transgender victims of crime are still routinely misgendered by police forces across the US.
ProPublica reviewed the murders of 85 transgender people since January 2015, finding that in 74 of the cases, the victims were identified by their former names or birth genders.
Many police forces insisted on using the name or gender listed on the victim’s ID, even when it is several years out of date.
Campaigners say that deadnaming and misgendering transgender people can cause significant harm to police investigations during the most critical phase, because it fosters mistrust of police within the transgender community and the victim’s social circle.