Diminished Value

It seems to be open season on transgender people in Ohio lately.

On Friday Brittany Stergis, 22, was found shot in the head in her car in a parking lot at a public housing facility. The parking lot was near some nightclubs. Police originally identified Brittany as a woman, but later went out of their way to change that to "a man dressed in women's clothing."

Jacob Nash of the Greater Cleveland transgender community said the death "looks particularly like a hate crime."

There would be no other reason for anyone to come up like that and shoot somebody the way they shot her.


On Thursday morning Betty Skinner, 52, and a disabled resident of an apartment complex in the Cleveland neighborhood called Old Brooklyn, was found dead in her bed. The victim had suffered head injuries indicative of blunt force trauma. Records indicate that Ms. Skinner had transitioned before no later than 2002. Her body was found by a home health care worker. The worker had last seen Ms. Skinner alive on Wednesday at 10pm.

Cleveland police initially identified her by a name that was not legally hers since 2002.

Neither homicide has been classified as a hate crime at this point.

Ms. Skinner's fellow residents in the complex describe her as "friendly, nice and outgoing." She apparently had a severe speech impediment.

I don't think anyone in this building would have done that.

--male resident

Police have no suspects in either case, which they say show no indication of being related.

Last month Cuyahoga County was the scene of the murder trial of Andrey Bridges, who was convicted of stabbing to death transwoman Cemia "Ce Ce" Dove in January after, he says, becoming enraged at discovering that Dove had male genitals. So he stabbed her 40 times and discarded the body in a pond. It came loose from the cement block he tied it to and surfaced in April. That was similarly not labeled a hate crime. Dove was consistently misgendered during the trial.

Bridges was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 20 years.

Then we have Queens (NYC) defense attorney John Scarpa. Scarpa's client, Rasheen Everett, was convicted in the 2010 murder of transwoman Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, 29, who was identified as a transgender prostitute in the press.

Everett, a man with a history of abuse according to prosecutors, was convicted of choking the victim to death after discovering she had male genitals. He then bleached her body in an attempt to destroy evidence, stole her camera, suitcase, keys, laptop, coat, and cellphone and fled to Las Vegas, where he was arrested 40 days later.

The judge sentenced Everett to 29 years to life. That's when Scarpa took exception.

Shouldn’t that [sentence] be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals?

Who is the victim in this case? Is the victim a person in the higher end of the community?


Scarpa later said he was not referring to the victim's status as a transgender person but rather her status as a prostitute who was HIV-positive.

I thought it was loathsome for the judge to say this was a good person.


Queen's Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter, who described Everett as being a "coldhearted and violent menace to society," rejected Scarpa's tirade.

This court believes every human life in sacred. It’s not easy living as a transgender, and I commend the family for supporting her.

--Justice Buchter

The pain my family feels is unbearable. It’s all like a nightmare, and I’m still waiting to wake up.

--Ruben Andujar, the victim's brother

Finally, in Florida, 16-year-old Tavares Spender was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the attempted murder of a transgender woman named Coko. In this case Spencer discovered that the victim was born a man and then lured the victim into a vacant house and shot her in the hip. COko played dead until Spencer was distracted and then ran away, being a shot one more time in the process.

Cora Keaton, the defendant's grandmother, said that the problem was that her grandson didn't grow up with a father, and so, lacked a male role model. Spencer's father is scheduled to be released from prison next month.

My grandson has a very good heart. He's funny. He's kindhearted. He has a problem.


Spencer says the incident has brought him closer to God.

I just pray for mercy. I asked God to forgive me and I feel in my heart he forgave me and I just want help. I know my actions won't go unpunished. I know that. I just feel like I need help. I feel like I need another chance.

I want to apologize to the victim and the victim's family. And I want to apologize to my family for causing pain.





Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)


Also in Ohio

Robyn's picture

...Emily LeVan, who has a transgender child, posted on Facebook about the family's big step in changing her daughter's name from "Keaton" to "Keat." Keat , who is 9, started her transition at a school last year after attending as a boy the year before.

Some parents of Keat's schoolmates decided that bullying was required in this situation.

I am terribly ticked that the parents are allowed to send their boy to school as a girl and put him in this embarrassing situation.

--a parent who said that Keat's parents were guilty of child abuse

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)