Transgender Woman Found Burned Beyond Recognition in Florida, Officials Say



The body of a black transgender woman, said by the authorities to have been burned beyond recognition, was found inside an abandoned car in Florida.

The victim, Bee Love Slater, 23, was the 18th transgender person known to have been killed in the United States this year, according to Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization that tracks anti-transgender violence.

The authorities had to use dental records to identify her after she was found on Sept. 4 just outside of Clewiston, Fla., a city on the southwest side of Lake Okeechobee, Steve Whidden, the Hendry County sheriff, said Saturday night in an interview.

Sheriff Whidden said investigators were treating the case as a homicide, but had not uncovered any evidence to suggest that the killing was a hate crime.

“We don’t have anything that would show that it’s a hate crime right now,” he said. “We possibly have a motive, but I can’t say what that is at this time.”

The authorities are examining a series of social media posts directed at Ms. Slater before her death, according to Sheriff Whidden, who said that while they were not direct threats, they wished harm on Ms. Slater.

“There were some Facebook posts made — that this person needs to die,” said Sheriff Whidden, who would not elaborate on whether posts were made by an individual or more than one person because of the ongoing investigation.

Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender crime victims said Ms. Slater’s death was part of what they said was an alarming spate of violence against transgender people.

The Human Rights Campaign said she was the 18th transgender person to have died by violent means so far this year. In 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 such deaths, the majority of whom were black transgender women.

“These victims are not numbers — they were people with hopes and dreams, loved ones and communities who will miss them every day,” the group said on Twitter after Ms. Slater’s death.

Janet Taylor, a former longtime Hendry County commissioner, said on Saturday that the death jolted the tight-knit city of Clewiston, which is about 65 miles west of West Palm Beach.

“That’s the feel of the community, that this is really a hate crime,” Ms. Taylor said. “Sexual preferences — we can’t be judgmental about that. Our community just wants justice done for her family.”

Ms. Taylor, who is the founder of Glades Lives Matter, a community action group, said Ms. Slater was not from the immediate area and was believed to be from Pahokee, Fla., which is about 30 miles from Clewiston.

“She didn’t deserve what she got,” Ms. Taylor said.

The American Medical Association called violence against transgender people an “epidemic” and voted at a conference in June to adopt new policies to help prevent this violence.

“According to available tracking, fatal anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise and most victims were black transgender women,” Bobby Mukkamala, an association board member, said in a statement.

The new policies include educating people on the disproportionate number of fatal attacks on black transgender women and supporting a standardized database of hate crimes.

“The number of victims could be even higher due to underreporting, and better data collection by law enforcement is needed to create strategies that will prevent anti-transgender violence,” Dr. Mukkamala said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said in a statement on Facebook: “Our society needs to work to ensure transpeople can live without fear.”


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