Answers Sought In Killing of Philadelpia Trans Woman

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Kiesha Jenkins

Philadelphia police are still searching for answers in the brutal murder of a local transgender woman.

Kiesha Jenkins, 22, was fatally shot around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 6, a few minutes after stepping out of a car at 13th and Wingohocking streets in Logan.

A 911 call alerted authorities to the incident, said police spokesperson Officer Christine O’Brien.

Police believe Jenkins was targeted, but don’t yet know if her transgender identity played a role in the shooting. Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel, the department’s LGBT liaison, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Police are still searching for security footage from the area, O’Brien said. She said no suspects have been arrested yet. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477) or text PPDTIP (773847).

Homicide Capt. James Clark told PGN that five or six males approached and assaulted Jenkins. He said one man pulled out a gun and shot her twice in the back. Jenkins was transported to Einstein Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, Clark said. 

According to her Facebook profile, Jenkins grew up in Philadelphia and most recently lived in North Philadelphia. She attended West Philadelphia High School and Temple University, her profile states.

Jenkins’ murder joins a list of dozens of other transgender women who have been killed in the United States this year. A report in The Advocate indicated 20 transgender women across the country had been murdered in the first seven months of 2015. Most of those were women of color. Jenkins was a black woman.

As the police continue the investigation into Jenkins’ killing, LGBT leaders in Philadelphia have called upon the community to help end the violence against trans women.

The TransHealth Information Project, a program at GALAEI: A Queer [email protected] Social Justice Organization, made a statement on Facebook “regarding the senseless murder of yet another trans woman of color.” 

“We work so hard to end discrimination and for equality,” the statement read, “but, on a higher level, we know that even if we change laws and policy, we still have work to change the generational thoughts of those who identify as transgender, and, more than anything, the negative outlook people have about trans women.”

The statement went on to call for the end of violence against trans people.

“The community is suffering,” TIP staff wrote, “and we know we still have to fight.”

Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, told PGN the violence is “an epidemic in humanity that needs to stop.”

“It’s not just Philadelphia,” she said. “This is a national problem. These murders are happening from the East Coast to the West Coast, from north to south. It requires, honestly, a national response.”

There has been speculation about, if and when an arrest is made in Jenkins’ case, whether hate-crimes charges could be pressed. Fitzpatrick said the Shepherd-Byrd Act, which expanded the federal hate-crime law, does cover crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. But Pennsylvania’s hate-crime law does not include those provisions; it covers race, color, religion, national origin and ancestry. Philadelphia adopted an LGBT-inclusive hate-crime law earlier this year that instates fines and jail time for such crimes. 

Murder charges are expected to be filed in Jenkins’ case, regardless of whether it’s also a hate crime, Fitzpatrick said. 

“Any attack on an individual, when five or six people beat that person into the ground, and then that person is executed by being shot two times in the back, that’s a crime committed with such malice,” she said. 

Fitzpatrick said Jenkins’ murder is a tragedy that should motivate people to look at the bigger picture.

“It’s time to start solving this epidemic issue and solving this violence before it occurs,” she said.

Fitzpatrick encouraged people to attend the fifth-annual Trans* March taking place 3 p.m. Oct. 10, starting in LOVE Park, 1599 JFK Blvd. 


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