HENDRY COUNTY — People across the State of Florida are reacting to an arrest made in the two-year-old murder case of a transgender woman.
Bee Love was killed in Clewiston back in 2019, but she is just part of a growing number of transgender individuals who experience violence based on their identity.
We spoke with State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith. Even though it hasn’t been labeled this way yet, he believes what happened to Bee Love was a hate crime, and he said the laws in Florida need to be changed to make sure those crimes are reported to the Federal Government.
Rep. Guillermo Smith said trans people like Bee Love are being targeted, and it’s a growing problem.
“Just in the year 2021, we have seen at least 50 transgender individuals murdered in the United States," said Guillermo Smith.
But he said in Florida those crimes may not ever end up in the Federal Hate Crime Database.
"Law enforcement agencies are not required in our state to report hate crimes in their communities to the Federal database, which unfortunately creates a bit of a blind spot," said Guillermo Smith.
That’s a blind spot that Alanis Garcia said she also would like to see fixed. Like Bee Love, she too is a trans woman.
"We’re just people trying to exist, and the more you see people like us, the more hopefully you’re willing to accept us," said Garcia.
But Garcia said, to prevent more deaths like Love’s, it’s going to take more than simply reporting the numbers.
“The problem is, that’s something that’s happening after we’re dead, and while that does in some ways avenge us for what happened to us, I’d like to see stuff done to make it so we don’t have to get to that point," said Garcia.
One of the changes Garcia said could be made right now is a change to the Federal Fair Housing Act. Right now it does not recognize trans people as a protected class, so they can be denied housing based simply on their status as a trans person.
She said it will take more education and normalization of the trans community to achieve those goals.