A member of the US navy has been charged in connection with the death of a transgender woman who was found dead in Mississippi on Saturday.
The woman in question, Dee Whigham, is believed to have been stabbed to death at a Best Western hotel, but investigators are waiting for a full autopsy report before officially ruling on the cause of death.
The Navy sailor, Dwanya Hickerson, has been charged with capital murder in connection with Dee’s death. He was arrested on the Keesler air force base on Monday morning after a tip alerted the Sheriff’s department to surveillance footage of Hickerson leaving the hotel.
Whether or not this was a hate crime is still under investigation.
In the state of Mississippi, gender identity is currently not a factor on whether something was a hate crime, but if Dee’s murder was motivated by her being transgender, federal hate crime charges could be applied.
Emily Waters, senior manager of National Research and Policy at NCAVP, had this to say: “The violence that transgender women of color face is rooted in racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. We need to notice how these biases and violence are present in all of our everyday environments, and then work to change them.”
Naturally, while the investigatio is ongoing, her family and friends are mourning and searching for answers. There will be a candlelight vigil for Dee at a local LGBT center in Ocean Springs.