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Death of Pahokee transgender woman sheds light on race and identity

Posted at 7:52 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 16:24:23-04

The murder of an African-American transgender woman from Pahokee has created a lot of concerns in South Florida’s transgender community. Advocates say while investigators still work on a motive there’s a spotlight on what's becoming a larger nationwide issue.

“Hopefully a resolution to the situation by showing people that it’s an issue,” said Compass Community Center Transgender Youth Program Coordinator Lucas O’Ryan.

O’Ryan is describing the death of 23-year-old Bee Love Slater of Pahokee. On Sept. 4, Hendry County Sheriff’s deputies found Slater's body in a burned vehicle. It’s the 18th murder in the trans community nationwide this year; 17 of the women killed are disproportionately black.

While the motive remains unknown activists say the crime underlines the hard intersections of race and identity in South Florida.

“Supposedly one of the most progressive on LGBT stuff - well we’re not,” said O’Ryan. “And it’s going to take a lot more to get us to a point where trans women of color or any person that’s different feels safe to walk outside their door to go out to a bar. Or to do their job.”

Other advocates believe the latest murder is a sign of a much larger cultural issue.

“I think the community is under attack on a national level,” said Michael Riordan, who came out as a transgender woman at age 37. “Deaths are taken almost with a cavalier attitude. That’s tragic. And to be murdered for who you are is absolutely despicable and when people don’t take it as serious as it is – that’s even more despicable. It’s really what makes it a true tragedy.”

WPTV visited Slater’s mother who did not want to speak on camera. And friend’s told us they fear retribution. The Henry County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating.

Compass Community Center offers more than 20 professional and peer-led therapeutic, support, social, discussion and health related groups for members of the LGBTQ community. To learn more visit: