A 24-year-old transgender woman was fatally shot Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida, in what is the third reported homicide of a trans woman in the city this year. Posts on social media and a report from the LGBTQ news site Into identified the woman as Cathalina Christina James. According to local station WJAX, which dead-names James in its report, officers responded to a call around 1 p.m., and discovered James, who was pronounced dead at a local hotel.
Friends mourned James on social media — one post read, “Another trans girl shot and killed is the last thing I want to hear. No [matter] the life we may know they lived there is a level of respect that should be held to life. REST IN PEACE Cathalina Christina James put some respect on HER name.” Another said, “Cathalina Christina James you have the whole city hurting right now ... You were sooo full of life, I really can’t believe that I’m saying R.I.P to you and seeing it.”
Just weeks ago, Antonia English, 38, known to friends as Antash’a, was shot and killed in Jacksonville. And in February, Celine Walker, 36, was found fatally shot in a Jacksonville hotel room. According to local news, a trans woman was also attacked in Jacksonville this year.
Local advocates have expressed concern at what feels to some like a groundswell of violence against trans women in Jacksonville. Paige Mahogany Parks, a trans rights activist, told WJAX she was “very upset” when she heard the news about James’ death.
“My friend called me this morning and she asked me about the transgender woman that was killed at the hotel… and I was like no, not again,” Parks said. “There’s a target on every transgender woman’s back here. We have to watch our back, we have to be careful where we go. You know, it’s crazy that we have to live in solitude, just to stay alive.” Parks added that a Trans Lives Matter rally is planned for Wednesday evening at Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Florida LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida called on Jacksonville authorities to responsibly investigate “what many fear may be a serial killer” targeting trans women. The group also condemned the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s repeated misgendering of trans victims.
“The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality and chair of TransAction Florida, said in the statement. “They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets.
“By misgendering these transgender women, the JSO disrespects their memory and impedes their own investigations. These are out, trans women and that is how they are known in the community. All across the nation, law enforcement agencies have adopted protocols for responding to anti-transgender violence. They recognize that respecting the community builds trust and creates a willingness to share information that may catch a killer.”