US: Second Baltimore trans woman found murdered since June

Mia Henderson was found dead on Wednesday morning. Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join Share on WhatsApp 0 reader comments

Police are investigating the second murder of a trans woman in Baltimore, Maryland this summer, after a body was found in an alleyway during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The victim has been identified as Mia Henderson, 26. Her body was found shortly after 6 am on Wednesday on the 3400 block of Baltimore’s Piedmont Avenue, although she is not believed to be a resident of the area.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told a press conference:

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US: Suspect turns himself in following Cincinnati murder of trans woman

Tiffany Edwards was murdered in Ohio Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join Share on WhatsApp 0 reader comments

A man has surrendered himself to police, after a trans woman who was shot dead last month.

Tiffany Edwards was found by a refuse worker in Ohio three weeks ago, after she was shot and left in the middle of the road.

Police issued a warrant for the arrest of a Quamar Edwards, unrelated, who eventually turned himself in to police on July 2.

Quamar Edwards’ uncle Greg Mullins told a local news station that Tiffany had asked for a lift, and that he panicked when she hit on him.

While misgendering her, Mullins denied the attack was based on Tiffany’s sexual identity.

He said: “I hate this with a passion, ma’am, to even bring my nephew down here and walk him into the police station. But it’s the right thing to do.

This was never a hate thing. Mullins said.

“Apparently, he found out the boy was gay because he’s trying to hit on him and all other kinds of stuff.

“And I told you, my nephew gets an attitude about that now. I don’t know what happened after but this has nothing to do ’cause the guy was gay.”

Tiffany’s mother Temeka Edwards, said: “I never suspected the support that I’m receiving. I’m glad this vigil couldn’t have been on a better day. This guy turned himself in.”

In Florida, trans woman Yazmin Shancez was burned to death last month, and her remains left behind a dumpster at a rental facility.

Trans activist Zoraida Reyes was found dead last month in Anaheim, and police are treating her death as unexplained.

Baltimore trans woman Kandy Hall was found murdered in a field at the start of June.

A study by the Transgender Murder Monitoring project found that at least 238 trans people were murdered in the 12 months to November, though figures are likely to be underestimated.

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Hobby Lobby Wants To Control Which Bathroom A Transgender Woman Can Use, Too

Meggan Sommerville

In the days after the Supreme Court handed Hobby Lobby a sweeping victory in its fight to not provide employee health insurance that covers certain kinds of birth control, many customers came into the store in Aurora, Illinois, where Meggan Sommerville works, and offered their congratulations.

Hobby Lobby is a chain of craft stores whose founder says he tries to run the company in accordance with his Christian principles. Sommerville has worked there for 16 years. She loves her job and the store, which she said pays a good wage and carries supplies that she’s used for many of her own crafting projects.

Still, the congratulations from customers were hard to swallow. “I’d smile and nod and say, ‘Yes, it’s a victory for the company,’ and then I’d push my real feelings down and not think about it anymore.”

Sommerville is a transgender woman, and back in 2011, she filed a complaint against Hobby Lobby with the Illinois Department of Human Rights after the company refused to allow her to use the women’s bathroom either as a customer or an employee.

She was never given an explanation. But Sommerville said she sees a connection with Hobby Lobby’s argument that Christian principles should excuse it from covering some contraceptives.

“I don’t believe that any company has the right to deny access to appropriate medical care, same as the reason why I don’t believe that they have the right to deny me access to the washroom,” she said in a recent phone call with The Huffington Post. “No company has the right to dictate what is decided between me and my doctor.”

Sommerville transitioned to living as a woman in 2010. For the most part, colleagues and management were supportive, trying their best to use her new name and the right pronoun. That summer, she formally changed her name in court and received a new Social Security card and driver’s license. A month later, Hobby Lobby provided her with a new name tag that finally matched how she saw herself.

But management refused to budge on one issue: They insisted that Sommerville continue to use the men’s restroom. According to Sommerville, she was told she would only be allowed to use the women’s restroom if she provided proof that she had undergone genital reconstructive surgery. Neither the state of Illinois nor the federal government require this surgery for a person to legally change his or her gender.

“I was devastated,” Sommerville said. “I just want to be treated like all the other women. To do anything else diminishes who I am in the eyes of customers and employees.”

Going to the bathroom became an embarrassing ordeal, where she was constantly worried about outing herself to customers or colleagues who didn’t know her history. “There have been a few times when a customer has come in and I have essentially been trapped in the stall while I wait for the person to leave,” she said. “The stories of trans women that have come under attack are always on my mind when I am forced to use the men’s room. At the very least, I don’t want to make a scene.”

Sommerville’s human rights complaint alleges that the company discriminated against her and “subjected her to unequal terms and conditions due to her gender identity.” Through a representative, Hobby Lobby declined to comment on her case, which is still awaiting a ruling from the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Hobby Lobby has not argued that religious principles influenced its refusal to allow Sommerville to use the women’s bathroom. But her lawyer, Jacob Meister, pointed to a recent Salon.com article on how Hobby Lobby, its executives and affiliated companies are pouring millions of dollars into organizations and causes that seek to advance conservative Christian values and oppose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“I think the facts speak for themselves. Hobby Lobby has very actively sought to impose what it believes the law should be wherever possible, and it has thrown a lot of money behind these efforts,” Meister said.

“I have absolutely no possible explanation for why they would so flagrantly ignore what’s very clear in Illinois law,” Meister continued. “Meggan is a female, she’s been full-time for many years, and they will not allow her to use the women’s restroom, which is something that is afforded to every female employee that they have except for Meggan, every female customer they have except for transgender folk.”

In the weeks since the Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, LGBT advocates and legal experts have picked over Justice Samuel Alito Jr.’s majority opinion, trying to gauge whether it gives corporations or institutions with religious affiliations carte blanche to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center, said she thinks that it does not. Still, she said, “I could imagine that employers will attempt nonetheless to try to push the boundaries of that decision, to argue that their religious values give them a right to discriminate.”

Sommerville’s issue is one of the most common faced by transgender people in the workplace, Turner said. While religion is not often mentioned explicitly in connection with lawsuits arising from similar scenarios, it is often “in the background,” she said.

Last year, California passed a law allowing transgender students to use facilities and participate in programs in accordance with their gender identity. That has fueled fears among conservative Christian groups that the rest of the states would soon follow.

After Phoenix, Arizona, passed a similar law in February 2013, Joseph LaRue, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national Christian legal organization, wrote a blog post calling the measure “appalling” and arguing that it “provided voyeurs and other sexual predators easy access to the places where children and women are most vulnerable.” According to Salon, the Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the groups heavily funded by Hobby Lobby profits.

Sommerville, a Christian herself, hopes that her human rights complaint may help change the culture at Hobby Lobby, at least on this particular issue. “I think any time somebody stands up for their rights to be respected, to be treated equally, it can make a change.”

Also on The Huffington Post 15 Things To Know About Being Transgender By Nicholas M. Teichof

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London: Police appeal for woman who filmed Vauxhall bar death

Adam Hird died following the incident

Police have appealed for a woman to come forward who filmed an incident outside a gay-friendly Vauxhall club in which a man died.

30-year-old Adam Hird died in the early hours of Sunday June 15 outside the No. 65 bar in Vauxhall – next door to a gay sauna – after an altercation in which he was reportedly restrained by security staff.

Four men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of assault.

Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Sharon Marman, said: “Obviously I am very keen to secure any footage of the incident as it could be very important to this investigation.

“I would like to reassure this woman that she is not in any trouble and that she can contact the police with the confidence that she will be treated with the utmost sensitivity.”

A statement from Adam Hird’s family said: “Adam was full of life, he was kind, gentle and funny and the youngest member of our close family.

“Adam was a qualified private pilot and loved to fly, he was just finishing his aerobatic qualification and hoped one day to be a commercial pilot.

“We never imagined that this could happen, right here, so close to where we live, where he should have been safe. We are deeply shocked and distraught at what has happened to Adam.

“We understand that a young blonde woman and possibly others may have recorded the incident on their cell phones. We sincerely ask that anyone who witnessed or recorded the incident please contact the police so we can secure the footage.

“We wish to offer a reward of

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US: Trans woman shot dead in Cincinnati

Tiffany Edwards was murdered in Ohio Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter! Join 0 reader comments

Police are investigating the murder of a trans woman, after she was found gunned down in the middle of the street.

According to PrideSource, police have appealed for information about the death of Tiffany Edwards, a trans woman of colour who was found by a refuse worker on Thursday morning, after she was shot and left in the middle of the road.

TransOhio state that Edwards is the fourth trans woman to be murdered in Ohio in 18 months.

The group’s founder Shane Morgan said: “It’s devastating that we’ve lost another community member to violence.

“Tiff, as her friends knew her, lost her life this morning. The brutality and violence we see being committed against trans communities of colour is real.

“It’s happening in our own cities, in our own state. This violence needs to end. Trans lives matter.

“CeCe Dove, Brittany Stergis, Betty Skinner and Tiff. Their lives matter.”

Police are trying to locate a Quamar Edwards in connection with the killing.

Aaron Eckhard, training and technical assistance director for the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, said that intial reports misgendered the victim completely.

He said: “We continue to be concerned that these homicides are often not investigated or reported on accurately, despite an alarming level of violence against transgender women of colour.”

In Florida, trans woman Yazmin Shancez was burned to death last weeek week, and her remains left behind a dumpster at a rental facility.

Trans activist Zoraida Reyes was found dead earlier this month in Anaheim, and police are treating her death as unexplained.

Baltimore trans woman Kandy Hall was found murdered in a field at the start of the month.

A study by the Transgender Murder Monitoring project found that at least 238 trans people were murdered in the 12 months to November, though figures are likely to be underestimated.

Anyone with information about the death should call the Criminal Investigation Section on 352-3542, or Crimestoppers on 352-3040.

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