FBI now involved in Tye murder investigation

The FBI is now involved in investigating the murder of Marcal Camero Tye, a 25-year-old trans woman found dead near a rural highway outside Forrest Hill, Ark., early Tuesday, March 8, according to reports posted today on AOL News.

Marcal Camero Tye

Special Agent Steve Frazier with the FBI Office in Little Rock told AOL News that the FBI is trying to determine if Tye’s civil rights were violated and would be working to determine if the murder was a hate crime.

Frazier said, “”Part of the civil rights statutes does include hate crimes, and we will be looking at that as a possibility, but right now it is open as a federal civil rights investigation.”

Investigators have said that Tye was shot in the head and her body then dragged down the road either behind or underneath a vehicle. Evidence that the body had been dragged caused activists with the Little Rock LGBT rights group Center for Artistic Revolution to believe the murder was an anti-trans hate crime.

However, Bobby May, sheriff of St. Francis County where Tye was killed, said the dragging appears not to have been intentional.

“Apparently after shooting the individual — we feel like the victim was shot in front of the vehicle — the suspect, whoever it may be, thought they might straddle the body, and in the process of taking off, the body got hung up under the vehicle,” May said. He also said there was evidence the driver had stopped and backed up in an attempt to disloge Tye’s body.

However, Frazier said, if the murder is determined to have been a hate crime, the fact that Arkansas has no state hate crimes law will not be a deterrent.

“Federal law is totally independent of any state law. The state has jurisdiction for homicide investigations, which are a state offense, but we have jurisdiction henever a killing may involve a person’s civil rights. We have federal jurisdiction totally unrelated to the state charge,” Frazier said.

May said investigators do not yet have a suspect in the case. However they did make plaster casts of tire tracks at the site and have found two .32-caliber shell casings at the scene. Tye was shot by a 32.caliber weapon.

Forrest City is located in the northeast portion of Arkansas, about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn., on Interstate 40. Memphis Flyer, an alternative newspaper in Memphis, reported Wednesday that Tye’s death is the latest in a series of murders of transgender women in the Memphis area in recent years. Other victims include Duanna Johnson, a trans woman who was shot to death in Memphis in November 2008, just months after she accused two Memphis Police officers of making derogatory remarks about her sexuality and then beating her after arresting her on a prostitution charge in June that same year. The beating was captured on videotape.

Other trans women who have been murdered are Tiffany Berry and Ebony Whitaker.

—  admin

Update on murder of Arkansas trans woman

St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May has said that while his department is waiting on lab reports to determine actual cause of death, trans woman Marcal Camero Tye — found dead early Tuesday near a rural highway outside of Forrest City, Ark. — appeared to have been shot in the head and then dragged by a car, according to WREG tv station out of Memphis.

WREG said Tye was 25, while other news outlets have said she was 24.

May also said he had reports that people nearby the scene had heard two gunshots in the area. Investigators have made plaster impressions of tire tracks at the scene that they hope will help them identify suspects in the murder.

Jennifer Bohannon, identified by WREG as a friend of Tye’s, said she had seen the victim just hours the shooting at her cousin’s house, and that Tye left there saying she was going home. Bohannon said Tye did not try to hide the fact that she was transgender, and Bohannon suggested Tye had been picked up by someone high on drugs and looking for sex, “And when they brought him down here they probably figured out, you know, noticed that he was a “dude” and probably took it from there and shot him and killed him.”

The first reports by WREG identified Tye as “a man wearing women’s clothes,” and used male pronouns to refer to her. However, after complaints by commenters online who suggested the station contact the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for guidelines on reporting on transgender people, the station’s  latest reports identify Tye as transgender, saying she was “born male, but lived as a woman.”

Even though WREG changed its language, other news outlets in Arkansas have not. The Daily World out of Helena, Ark., which identified Tye as a former Helena-West Helena resident, reposted WREG’s original story including the “man in a dress” language. KTHV in Little Rock identified Tye as a “transgender man” and used male pronouns in its online story. And The Republic in Columbus, Ind., posted a story online calling Tye “a man dressed in women’s clothing.”

 

—  admin

Trans woman murdered in Arkansas

WREG News Channel 3 out of Memphis, Tenn., has reported that trans woman Marcal Camero Tye was founded murdered near Forrest City, Ark. The murder is being investigated by Forrest

transgender murder victim
Marcal Camero Tye

City Police and by the St. Francis Sheriff’s Department.

The brief news report says that Tye had been shot and then dragged several hundred feet.

The report has also raised the ire of some activists, who in comments posted online, urged WREG to contact the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for guidance on how to properly report on transgender issues and individuals. The WREG report refers to Tye as a man wearing a dress and a wig and uses male pronouns. It closes with the statement: “People we talked to in Forrest City said Tye was always dressed as a woman, caused no trouble and was liked.”

Forrest City is located just off Interstate 40, between Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis. WREG reports say that Tye’s body was found on Hwy. 334, which, according to an online map, is just south and east of Forrest City.

—  admin

Alleged serial killer linked to 5 strangulations in Houston, including two transgender women

Lucky Ward

Houston police have arrested a man they say is responsible for five murders last year, including two in which the victims were transgender women. Lucky Ward, 46, is a serial killer who targeted those he perceived as vulnerable, according to police.

Ward’s victims included Gypsy Rodriguez, 40, of Houston, a transgender woman who was found dead Sept. 13; and Myra D. Ical, 51, a trans woman who was found dead Jan. 18, 2010. Both women were murdered near Houston’s heavily LGBT Montrose area.

The Houston Chronicle has published a story that identifies Rodriguez and Ical by their male birth names, refers to them with male pronouns and calls them “men who dressed as women.” Meghan Stabler, a transgender activist from Houston, said on her Facebook page that she’s asked the newspaper to correct the story.

—  John Wright

The Nooner: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to retire; trans woman found stabbed to death in Minn.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• Anti-gay Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announces she won’t seek re-election in 2012. (via multiple sources on Twitter)

• Trans woman found stabbed to death in Minneapolis’ first murder of 2011.

• Yoga studio apologizes for calling snow closings “gay.”

• School board chair in Canada apologizes for c0mparing Gay Straight Alliance to Nazis.

• Manager of coffee house run by anti-gay preacher is a convicted child molester.

—  John Wright

Top 10: As Prop 8, DOMA cases proceeded, Texas made its own marriage news

Marriage
LANDMARK RULING | Marriage equality supporters celebrate outside San Francisco City Hall after Judge Vaughn Walker’s August ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. (Rick Gerharter)

No. 4:

View all of the Top 10

As the year began, all eyes were on California, where conservative superstar Ted Olson and liberal luminary David Bois joined forces to challenge the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to defend Prop 8. As a result, ProtectMarriage.com, the main group behind the initiative, filed to intervene and defend it in court. On Aug. 4, six months after the trial began, Judge Vaughn Walker issued his ruling striking down the ban as unconstitutional, prompting celebrations across the country. The state refused to appeal, but the amendment’s supporters did. In December, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit convened to hear oral arguments in the Prop 8 case. The judges grilled attorneys on both sides, but marriage equality advocates said they were encouraged by the hearing. A ruling is expected next year, but the case likely will end up at the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, two lawsuits challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act went to trial in Massachusetts this year, and in both cases, DOMA came out the loser. Those cases are also now on appeal.

In Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott continued his crusade against same-sex divorce. In a Dallas case, Abbott’s office won a victory in May when a state appeals court overturned a judge’s decision to grant a same-sex divorce. Abbott’s appeal of another divorce in Austin is pending.

Meanwhile, transgender issues and LGBT marriage rights collided in July as Houston trans woman Nikki Araguz found herself going up against her in-laws, following the death of her husband, volunteer firefighter Thomas Araguz. Araguz’s family and former wife claimed his marriage to Nikki was invalid because she was born a biological male, and that all his benefits legally should go to them instead of Nikki. The case is awaiting trial.

And Texas would make big marriage news again in November, when a gay couple from Dallas announced they’d been legally married without leaving the state. Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup held their wedding ceremony at the W-Dallas hotel, but it was officiated via Skype from Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal. A few weeks later, D.C. officials declared the marriage invalid. The couple later physically traveled to D.C. and got married again. They’ve also renewed a complaint against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish their wedding announcement.

Elsewhere, Illinois became the sixth state to approve civil unions. In Hawaii, the legislature approved a bill allowing same-sex civil unions, but Republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed it. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would have given same-sex partners control over the dispensation of their partners’ remains after death, because he supports “traditional marriage.”

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court upheld that state’s gay marriage ban.

Internationally, Portuguese President Anabel Cavaco Silva signed into law legislation that allows same-sex marriage. Argentina’s legislature approved a bill legalizing gay marriage, and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner quickly signed it into law.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Queer locals of 2010

Twelve months isn’t all that long a time, but the impact someone can make on an entire year during any part of it can reverberate well beyond the calendar year. When we thought back on the culture in 2010, these are the 10 men and women who stood out most — for good or bad.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Israel Luna, filmmaker, left

Kelli Ann Busey, ticked-off activist, center
The most vocal debate in the gay community about the arts that occurred on a national scale started in Dallas, as Busey, a trans woman, objected to the title of Luna’s “transploitation” revenge melodrama Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. GLAAD got involved, protests were lodged when the film played at a festival in New York City, accusations and insults flew … it wasn’t always (ever?) pretty, but it did get people talking.

Mel Arizpe, Voice of Pride winner, right
After numerous attempts, Arizpe delighted her fans by winning VOP in August as a soloist and for a duet with her girlfriend … who herself came in second overall. Talk about keeping it all in the family.

……………………………………………………

Jorge-Trinity

Jorge Rivas, photographer, left
Following Adam Bouska’s NOH8 photo campaign, Rivas started Faces of Life, a series of portraits of locals aimed at raising money for AIDS Arms. Like Bouska, Rivas hopes to take it nationwide.

Trinity Wheeler, theater queen, right
Wheeler hasn’t lived in Texas for a while, but when he returned to his hometown of Tyler to direct The Laramie Project, he faced vocal resistance. The play was still put on, and became a success.

……………………………………………………

Jeffrey-Jack

Jeffrey Payne, leathermen, left

Jack Duke, leathermen, right
Payne, the outgoing International Mr. Leather of 2010, was nearly replaced by Duke, who ended up in third place overall. Payne set a high standard as IML champ, having an award named after him and starting a foundation to help the hearing impaired within the gay community. Duke has led an active role in the leather scene locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, showing the world Dallas knows leather culture — and gentlemen.

……………………………………………………

Danielle-Harold

Danielle Girdano, cyclist, left
Girdano wanted to raise money to bring awareness to teen
suicide even before the issue made national news, so she biked from Minnesota to Dallas, pulling in just in time for the Pride parade.

Harold Steward, arts visionary, right
Steward gave the black LGBT community a shot in the arm, co-founding the Fahari Arts Institute which hosts the popular Queerly Speaking series at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

……………………………………………………

TKO-Softball

Team TKO, softballers
Member teams of the Pegasus Slow-pitch Softball Association did gangbusters at the annual World Series in August, but none did better than the players on Uptown Vision’s TKO, who collectively won the B-
Division trophy by defeating the Long Beach Rounders in the NAGAAA tourney in Columbus, Ohio. When it comes to sports, it’s hard to beat a Texan — Tony Romo notwithstanding.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Questions arise over FW trans ordinance

Double negative included in addition to protections adopted last year could bar trans from using gender-specific restrooms

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Lisa Thomas
Lisa Thomas

FORT WORTH — A double negative in one sentence of an addition to the nondiscrimination protections in the Fort Worth ordinance would enshrine one form of bias against transgenders.

Proposed Section 17-48 (b) says “It shall not be unlawful for any person or any employee or agent thereof to deny any person entry into any restroom, shower room, bathhouse or similar facility which has been designated for use by persons of the opposite sex.”

Fort Worth assistant attorney Gerald Pruitt confirmed that, as written, the clause allows anyone to deny a transgender person presenting as one sex entry into a restroom if that person has not completed transition.

The concern among members of the transgender community stems from an incident in which a transgender woman was arrested in Houston for using a women’s restroom in a public library.

Earlier this year, Mayor Annise Parker issued an executive order that prohibited that form of discrimination, allowing transgenders to use whichever restroom they feel is appropriate in any city facility. The library would have been included in Parker’s order.

The November arrest contradicted the order but the action was against earlier laws already on the books.

“We have a number of transgender employees in Fort Worth,” Pruitt said. “I have no knowledge of any action like this ever being taken.”

He said that a situation arose about five years ago when someone began transitioning on the job. Someone who had been male was suddenly presenting as female and began using the woman’s room, he said.

“I think that’s where most of the angst is,” he said, explaining that someone everyone knew as a man began using the women’s restroom.

Pruitt said that the solution that satisfied everyone was that a bathroom convenient to the trans woman’s office was designated as her private restroom.

But he denied that this particular clause was in reaction to the Houston case, which he said he had not heard about before. And he said that as far as he knew, the wording was correct.

Tom Anable at Fairness Fort Worth was concerned about that one clause. He wondered why, if something was described as “not unlawful,” it would have been listed under the heading “unlawful acts.”

“I have sent it to staff at [the Human Rights Campaign] to ask for input on this,” Anable said.

Lisa Thomas, appointed to Fort Worth’s Human Rights Commission by Councilmember Joel Burns, said she had been “made aware of this discrepancy.”

“I’ve asked the chair and administrator of the commission to investigate what is the intent of these words, knowing it is not the intent to bar admission to restrooms,” Thomas said.

She said that in all discussions in the city, the intent has been not to discriminate.

“But we have to make sure we are all in alignment and right now it doesn’t seem like we are,” she said.

Tom Anable
Tom Anable

Section 17-48 (a) (1) adds language that bars discrimination against transgender persons. “Sexual orientation, transgender, gender identity or gender expression” are added to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age as protected categories.

No “person, employee or agent” may deny anyone “advantages, facilities or services” that Section states. So section (a) (1) contradicts Section (b) since the second section does deny admission to facilities.

Section 17-48 (a) (2) makes it illegal to deny anyone admission or expel someone from a place of public accommodation “for alleged non-compliance with a dress code.”

Exemptions to the ordinance include any facility whose services are restricted to members and their guests, religious organizations, private day cares, kindergartens or nursery schools.

But that exemption applies equally to ability to discriminate based on race or religion as sexual orientation or gender identity.

Again, section (a) (2) contradicts Section (b) because admission is denied.

Violating any provision of the code is a misdemeanor. So presumably, any person discriminating against a transgender person by refusing to allow them to use a specific restroom would be charged with a misdemeanor.

The word “not” may have been placed in the sentence by mistake. If so, these additions have not been adopted yet and may be changed before the city council votes on them.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

A note on gay Pride — in and out of the community

I had an annoying conversation this morning.

A publicist for a troupe we (let’s put it this way) “recently profiled” called to ask for a change online to the story: Seems like we referred in the headline to the person we interviewed as “gay.” She wanted it removed.

“I’m sorry — is that not true?” I asked.

“No, it’s true. He’s gay.  He would just prefer you not mention it.”

The conversation continued like this for a long time.

Now, I’m happy to correct errors, especially ones caused by us. But this person was pitched to me as the “gay head of this troupe,” and I assigned the story accordingly. If he had not been gay … well, let’s just say the troupe was not on my radar enough such that I would have been all that interested in the story without a hook, an angle. That was his.

Part of the mission of this newspaper is to draw our readers (many of whom are straight) to what’s going on in and by the gay community. Sometimes it’s homophobes attacking us and our rights. Sometimes it’s our allies who embrace us for who we are and treat up as equals. Sometimes it’s just celebrities who have an interesting perspective on their gay fans. Sometimes it’s openly gay people who are victimized by bigots, or leaders who step up to improve the lot of the community.

But a lot of the time, it’s just ordinary gay folks doing something out in the world we think people might want to know about. A trans woman who continues to be a personal trainer. A musician who wants to save the Great American Songbook. An auto mechanic who runs a garage and offers his gay clientele a friendly environment. An actor who steals the show in a national tour of a terrible musical. A museum curator who brings his unique perspective to a major art museum. Maybe being gay doesn’t directly affect what they do too much. But maybe it does. And it’s good to have a sense of pride knowing the vast landscape of opportunities out there — and that being openly gay, bi or trans is not a hindrance to success.

So when someone who is gay — and claims to be out — asks me to hide that fact … well, it angers me. You don’t need to do an interview with me. You don’t need to discuss your sexuality if you do agree to the interview. You don’t even need to be gay for me to write about you. But don’t come to me with the pitch that our readers might be interested in reading about you and then leap back in the closet. Because there are a lot of people out there proud to be called gay. I’m one of them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The face of anti-trans violence

As North Texans commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance, one trans woman remembers the attack she survived as a child

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Winter Mullenix
Winter Mullenix

To many people, statistics on anti-transgender violence are just numbers. Astounding, perhaps frightening, but still just numbers.

Winter Mullenix is the face of one of those numbers. One of many.

Mullenix was attacked when she was 9 years old by someone who had apparently been stalking her for a while.

“He was disgusted by my behavior. I was living as a boy, but it was obvious to everyone,” she said, describing herself. “I would dance and prance and I hung out with the girls.”

Mullenix said that when she was a child, she would sneak out of the house at night and go to a nearby playground. She isn’t sure now what time she left the night she was attacked, but, she said, she knows she had waited until everyone in the house was sound asleep.

“He jumped me,” she said. “He was hiding near the playground.”

Mullenix said her attacker jumped out from behind a tree or maybe even from inside the hollowed-out old tree. Then he grabbed her and dragged her down to a creek near the playground.

“If you want to be a woman, you have to learn to bleed like a woman,” he told her.

Then he put a knife into her rectum and cut the skin around her tailbone. Then he raped her, using her blood as lubricant, she said.

Before he left her, Mullenix said, he asked, “You don’t want to be a little girl anymore, do you, faggot?”

Those words are burned into her memory, proof that the attack was a hate crime and not just the actions of a violent pedophile.

When he was done, he left Mullenix for dead, laying in a pipe connected to the sewer.

Her memory of getting home is blurry. She told no one about what happened and healed without medical attention. Her attacker was never caught, at least not for this crime. Mullenix never reported the rape.

“I became numb,” she said. “I cut myself off from the world.”

Mullenix said she became delusional and entered a fantasyland to mask her pain. But things started to change five years later when she began the process of coming out as transgender at age 14. She was having severe nightmares.

“I’d doodle a lot during class,” she said. “My Spanish teacher noticed I was drawing very violent things. She worried about what was happening to me and sent me to a school counselor.”

The school counselor referred Mullenix to outside counseling until she achieved her goal at age 20 of having sex reassignment surgery.

“I was focused,” Mullenix said.

She had determination uncommon in a teenager.

Although continuing to dress as a male until age 17, Mullenix knew who she was when she began going to counseling. Throughout her teens she was determined to complete her transition early. She worked, saved money and paid for the surgery herself.

Despite the words of her attacker, Mullenix knew exactly what she wanted and who she was.

“I felt as normal as I could when I completed the transition,” she said.

But Mullenix still suffers the psychological effects of the brutal attack. She has panic attacks and a fear of the dark.

“I can’t sleep without a light on,” she said.

She’s paranoid that someone is going to sneak up behind her and jump her. She scares easily. She’s uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

“People think I’m a creature of habit,” Mullenix said. But she actually just avoids unfamiliar places.

“I survived,” she said. “But I have friends who died from violent crimes.”

“The homicide rate for transgenders is so high,” said Marla Compton, the coordinator for GEAR, the transgender program at Resource Center Dallas.

Human Rights Campaign estimates that one out of every 1,000 homicides in the U.S. is an anti-transgender hate crime.

“We do have to be more careful,” Mullenix said. “Violence is more likely for us.”

Despite her experiences, Mullenix said that she can’t let what happened control her life.

“[You] have to take control and take proper precautions,” she said. “For me, I’m happily married now and I have some great, supportive friends.”

Mullenix also stressed that a violent situation doesn’t have to mean the end of a normal life.

“I want transgender youth to know they shouldn’t let fear control them if something terrible happened and they survived it,” she said.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is important to Mullenix because it displays unity within the LGBT community.

“It acknowledges us as part of the community,” she said.

“The day gives us a chance to pause and remember those who left us and cherish those who are still here,” Compton said.

She said that having friends and allies attend a TDoR event is emotional and uplifting to her. But she also said that it helps others understand the violence the transgender community faces.

“Fortunately, I’ve never had to read the name of a friend at TDoR,” Compton said.

But too many others have.

Dallas’ Transgender Day of Remembrance observance takes place at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope Sunday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m.

Organizers asked people to participate in the memorial by bringing a flower. Speakers will include Cece Cox and Andy Moreno, with performances by Voice of Pride 2010 winner Mel Arizpe, Women’s Chorus of Dallas ensemble MosaicSong and the Youth First Texas choir PUMP!

In Fort Worth, TDoR remembrance will be held during morning worship at Agape Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens