Jaida Peterson, left, and an individual identifying as Raheem Fennell from Twitter, right. (Photo Credits: (Peterson) courtesy HRC; (Fennell) Twitter)

Jaida Peterson, a 29-year-old transgender black woman, was shot dead April 4, at the Quality Inn off Queen City Drive in west Charlotte. Now, another transgender woman has been found dead following a shooting that occurred April 15, at the Sleep Inn on N. Tryon St. in northeast Charlotte. Initially listed in an online report from WBTV as Raheem Fennell, 28, she has since been identified as Remy Fennell.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) confirmed there are similarities between the two killings and issued the following statement:

“Both of the victims in these cases were trans women operating as sex workers. the CMPD is encouraging members of the LGBTQ community engaged in sex work to exercise extreme caution and immediately report anything suspicious by calling 911.”Detectives have yet to determine whether the two cases are connected, but given the circumstances,

While almost no additional information is currently available regarding Fennell, what appears to be long abandoned Twitter accounts — the only two using the aforementioned names on Twitter — were uncovered in a social media search by qnotes.

Because the CMPD issued a press release using Peterson’s previous name, her friends were not aware of her murder until days after the fact. The report also misgendered Peterson.

A resident of South Carolina, it was through efforts of the advocacy and accountability organization Charlotte Uprising that Peterson’s body was finally returned to her loved ones in Darlington. Supporters and members of Charlotte Uprising were able to raise $2,000 for Peterson’s funeral on April 13.

Various media reports show an increase of violence and murder of transgender black women. According to reports from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), black trans women are killed at a disproportionate rate because of a blending of racism, transphobia, sexism and homophobia.

A report from Cable News Network (CNN) goes on to clarify that being a transgender female and Black places an individual in a higher risk category.

Although many sources, including the CMPD, have been hesitant to label the murders as hate crimes, HRC confirmed Jaida Peterson is the fourteenth transgender or gender nonconforming person to be killed in 2021 (bit.ly/3djUxks). Fennell is now the fifteenth gender expansive person killed in 2021.

 “The police showed us what they think of Jaida [Peterson] when they deadnamed her or didn’t say anything about her being trans,” Ash Williams, a representative of Charlotte Uprising, said in a recent interview with Gay City News (bit.ly/3acsFg4).

The trend has been repeated similarly in the past as gender expansive individuals have been continually misgendered and deadnamed by media sources. A notable study by Natalee Seely, which offers detailed information, is available on the website for SAGE Journals and is titled “Reporting on Transgender Victims of Homicide, Misgendering, Sourcing and Transparency” (bit.ly/2PXX1MN).

The piece chronicles the positive effects that bringing attention to misidentification can have on reporting. “Deadnaming declined significantly from 2018 to 2019,” Seely writes.

Outside of North Carolina, another transgender woman was murdered April 8, in Springfield Missouri. Dominique Lucious, 26, was killed on April 8 in her apartment. A man identified as Charles Nelson, 28, has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Acknowledging the lack of safety that transgender women of color face every day, Transcend Charlotte posted on Facebook, “Jaida was the target of a horrific hate filled attack, and emphasizes the need for all of us to do better for the trans and gender expensive communities. We will keep fighting, we are here creating safe space for those of you who need to connect” (https://bit.ly/2Q5liQU).

The Cashapp $Faith0287 has been circulating as a means to provide financial aid to Jaida Peterson’s loved ones.

While the CMPD is continuing to investigate both murderers, they have asked for any information relating to the cases be reported to 704-432-TIPS. Information may also be given anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or charlotte.crimestoppersweb.com.

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