US: Transgender People Report ‘High Levels of Violence’ in the U.S. South

Kayla Gore knows transgender people face overwhelming violence in the Southern United States. She sees the evidence regularly.

“Navigating life as a Black trans woman here in the South has been traumatic and violent, to say the least,” Gore tells Rewire.News.

Gore works with homeless transgender women as a southern regional organizer for the Atlanta-based organization Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which operates five chapters in six states across the South. On Friday, a member of the local trans community was shot in the leg at a Waffle House in Southaven, Mississippi. Although the unincorporated community is just over the Tennessee state line, it’s often viewed as a suburb of Memphis, the city Gore calls home.

According to Gore, 23-year-old Jimtarius Hampton and his friends began verbally harassing the victim when she entered the Waffle House, calling her a “man.” After a physical altercation, Hampton allegedly shot the victim, who has yet to be identified in news reports, with an AK-47. “She’s 95 pounds soaking wet,” Gore tells Rewire.News. “I’m not sure what type of threat she was posing that he had to use that much force. She was hungry. She just wanted to get something to eat.”

The victim’s femur was shattered, as the Mississippi NBC affiliate WMC reported. She will require surgery and a rod in her leg.

This isn’t the only act of violence against the local trans community in recent weeks. According to a press release from the Transgender Law Center, Jazzaline Ware was found dead in her Memphis apartment last month. The legal advocacy organization claims the case is being investigated as a homicide, but her name has yet to make headlines in local newspapers. Read more via Rewire