A transgendered woman who was murdered in Memphis on July 1 was laid to rest yesterday, with her family and a state-wide advocacy group calling for justice.
Ebony (Rodney) Whitaker, who was shot and killed just outside a Memphis daycare, is the third victim of a possible transgender hate crime in the Memphis area. Another woman was beaten by Memphis Police and a third was murdered in 2006.
Whitaker, who according to Memphis EyeWitness News, has been arrested for prostitution. It reported that the 20-year-old had "been turning tricks for money since he was 16."
Whitaker’s cousin Claudia Blair told EyeWitness News that justice would eventually find the person responsible for the murder.
"I would like to tell the person that did this crime, you will not get away with it," she said. "Justice will be served."
Memphis Police have not taken anyone into custody for Whitaker’s murder. Investigators have not released a possible motive in the killing.
Blair told EyeWitness News that she thinks one of Rodney’s clients got upset when they realized Ebony was really a man.
"I’m thinking he ran across a man," she says, "who wanted female company. And he thought he had a beautiful young lady. And in the midst of the moment, he found out Rodney wasn’t a woman and got mad and shot him."
The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) called upon the Memphis Police Department to be more responsive in crimes against their community.
"We consider these two recent crimes (Duanna Johnson’s beating and Rodney Whitaker’s murder), combined with the unsolved murder of Tiffany Berry, to be unacceptable," said Marisa Richmond, president of TTPC. "The lack of response by the Memphis Police Department has set a tone in the community that the lives of transgender people, especially African-American, are irrelevant."