A transgender woman was found burned to death behind a garbage container in Fort Myers, Fla., on June 19, Naples News reports.
Fort Myers authorities are investigating the death of Yaz’min Shancez, 31, as a homicide but not as a hate crime.
"We have no indication at this time to say this was specifically done because it was a male living as a female or anything like that," Fort Myers Police Lt. Jay Rodriguez said. "If you really think about it, a hate crime is killing someone for a specific reason, being black, Hispanic, gay. We’re investigating as we would any other homicide."
Shancez ’s body was found on a dead-end, private road in an industrial part of Fort Myers.
Shancez ’s father, Harvey Loggins, said his family left balloons and stuffed animals at the crime scene.
"We didn’t hate him for what he was," Loggins said of his daughter "Still to this day I love him. I wish he was here right now."
According to police reports, Shancez was identifying as a woman since 2004 where she initially spelled her name as "Jasmine." At the time, when she was 20 years old, she was working as a self-employed hairstylist.
GLAAD spokesman Ross Murray told Naples News he didn’t know if Shancez was the victim of a hate crime but said, "no one deserves to be violently murdered and set on fire and put behind a Dumpster."
He added trans women and trans woman of color are "particularly transgender women of color, face the most violence against them."
"I think that transgender people are still marginalized and stigmatized in our society," Murray said. "We tend to talk about transgender people in a way that discounts their experience and makes them a butt of a joke or deviant or suspicious and doesn’t take (their) whole life into account."
Loggins told the newspaper he didn’t believe his daughter had any enemies "for that to happen to him." He added that the last time he saw Shancez was a week before Father’s Day. He says she texted him, "’Happy Father’s Day, I love you, Pop."
About 200 people gathered on Sunday for a vigil to honor Shancez, Naples News reports in a different article.
Shancez’s sister, Laquesha Loggins, said Shancez loved to dance and was always happy, adding she "always woke up with a smile."
"I got a call the next day that my brother is dead and gone," Laquesha Loggins told Naples News. "They didn’t have to burn him like that. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, black, purple or white, he was still a human being and he did not deserve that."
Tasha Furlow, Shancez’s aunt, was touched by the support during the vigil.
"It means so much to me because I never knew so many people could love a person like that," she told the newspaper. "Sometimes you feel like nobody’s there for him because of the way he was, but his family was there for him. I’m happy to see other people here for him."
The Southwest Florida Equality Coalition and the Center of Southwest Florida organized the vigil.
"We’re here to show unity. We’re in support of any community members, especially on the LGBT spectrum," Heather Lunsford, one of The Center’s founders, said. "[We’re here to bring awareness] especially because of the nature of the crime committed against [Shancez]."
Though the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, many people who attended the vigil said otherwise.
"I think [hate crimes] get less attention and cops don’t take into account the rate of [this kind of] crime," attendee Jessi Cason told Naples News. "I hope the police use this as an opportunity to learn and to protect transgendered people."
Jenna Satterfield said she’s tired of seeing transgender people getting injured and killed.
"The amount of violence in this crime screams the perpetrators were trying to send a message," she said. "In spite of the fact we’re lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgendered, we’re no different than anybody else ... We’re no different and we mean no harm."
From our media partner EDGE