Joe Mirabella

Trans Woman Shot and Dragged to Death in Arkansas

Filed By Joe Mirabella | March 09, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Arkansas, forrest city murder, murder, transgender, violence

Tuesday morning the body of 25-year-old Marcal Camero Tye was found dead in Forrest City, Arkansas. According to the local police it appeared she was shot and dragged by a car. Sheriff Bobby May, told WREG Channel 3, "We're going to be, of course, waiting for the lab results, the pathology reports, but it appeared to be that he did have a head wound and also that he had been drug by a car."

I spoke to Randi Romo, the Executive Director of Center for Artistic Revolution, the Arkansas Statewide Equality Organization Tuesday evening. Randi told me when she heard about the murder she immediately contacted the United State's Justice Department's LGBT liaison in Arkansas, Mary Sloan.

"We don't know if it was a hate crime," Randi said, "but we want to make sure it is closely looked at. We want to make sure the full force of the law is put behind this." According to Romo the Justice Department is going to keep a close eye on this case.

Arkansas is one of four states that do not have their own hate crime legislation, and only one of two that do not have a civil rights commission. Mississippi is the other.

Forrest City, Arkansas, is a rural town of about 14,000 people. It is named after the first Grand Master of the Klu Klux Klan Nathan Bedford Forest.

Marcal Camero Tye identified as a woman, however the local police continued to use the incorrect pronoun when they spoke to reporters on Tuesday. They also referred to her as a "cross dresser" and reflected that in their police reports.

The local news originally reported the victim as a, "man dressed as woman" because that is how the police report described Marcel according to the reporter. GLAAD, Meghan Stabler from HRC's Board of Directors, GetEqual Arkanasas, and local activists contacted WREG to correct the story to reflect Marcal's true identity. WREG quickly acted upon the advice they were given and edited the original report.

"We should at least honor Marcal in death for who she was since she did not get that respect in life," Romo said. "We really want the media to take a look about how they report these stories."

Since Arkansas does not a have a hate crimes law, local statistics about violence against the trans community are not available. The only public record is the description in local media, so that description must be highly accurate. That can be difficult when the police force does not even know how to describe a trans person in their report.

Sadly, another member of the trans community was lost to violence. The source of that violence remains unknown, but everyone is watching this case closely to make sure the law does their job.

"We are not saying that no one is doing their job," Randi explained, "We are just watching to make sure everyone is doing their job the way it would be for anyone else."


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Christina Johnson | March 9, 2011 9:44 AM

"We really want the media to take a look about how they report these stories."

I'd really like it if the media didn't have to report these kinds of storis, because I'd like it if the events didn't take place. I recommend that anyone living in high risk areas (IE The whole damn US) get some self-defense/unarmed combat training.

These stories are sad not only in the death, but in the disrespect with pronouns and identity after as well. I am happy that posts like this draw attention to the mistakes in references and that that is not okay.

Horrendous original reporting. I'm glad they made the effort to correct it; that says a lot about their professionalism.

Darren Cohen | March 9, 2011 1:41 PM

I don't get it. I thought a transsexual was someone who had a sex change operation and a transvestite was someone who wore the clothes of the other sex.
The article only refers to the person as 'trans.' So which is it? Was he a man in women's clothes, or was she a woman, having had a sex change operation?
Are we supposed to report inaccurately just because someone wished they were something else?
I agree the person should be treated with respect and dignity, but I'm not sure what the article is trying to say. Are we supposed to call men (people born male and who still have male genitalia) who wish they were female females? I passionately support gay marriage and equal rights for everyone, but I think expecting reporters and police to report inaccurately is going too far.
Sorry if my question sounds ignorant, and I don't mean to offend, but the article made me realize that I might not be up on the right terminology. And I don't want to continue to offend.

Darren,

Not being one I can't speak with 100% certainty, but it appears from a lot of my reading that when the term "trans" is used it is in conjunction with someone who either has undergone or is undergoing the reassignment process. As there are different stages of the process (which can take several years to complete) it is possible for someone to still have the genitalia of the pre-op sex but be living as the post-op sex. That is very different from a transvestite (or cross-dresser) for whom the term "trans" is rarely if ever used.

Hope that helps.

Definition of "trans" from “Sexuality: The Essential Glossary” Oxford University Press: http://bit.ly/hj7hVH

Good question, Darren. The definition of transsexual is contested and somewhat ambiguous. As an academic in the field, I would say that 'transsexual' refers to someone who lives in a gender role different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth, or strongly and persistently desires to. This may or may not involve surgery or medical intervention. 'Transgender' is usually used in a broader sense of nontraditional gender expression or identity, which could include crossdressers. As a rule of thumb, it is considered best practice to refer to someone who is clearly trying for a female gender presentation in the female gender. Of course, this is culturally contested and not writ in stone.

Darren, the PC term these days is 'transgender' That term basically captures the message, "I do not identify with my biological gender" but doesn't denote the stage of transition. It can refer to someone who just started dressing as the appropriate sex, someone who uses hormones for the desired secondary sexual characteristics, or someone who has gone through full transition and had surgery. Actually, many people who identify as transgender don't get surgery either because they are happy with the effect of the hormones or the cost of the surgery is prohibitive.

No one who is not a part of the investigation needs to know details about the victim's genitals and her surgical status. Cis murder victims do not routinely have details about the shape of their genitals reported to the public, and the fact that this always happens to trans victims is morbid and gross and disrespectful. Saying that she is a trans woman is enough, the reporters should just stay out of her pants.

Darren, in reply to your question, Gender is not physical, it is our brain sex. What is between our legs is our physical sex. I am a transsexual and I identify as female and all legal documents is female under gender.

I will be having gender reassignment surgery soon but the fact is, just because I still have the remnants of male physicality does not mean i "am a man in a dress". A transvestite is a man who enjoys wearing women's clothing for pleasure for transsexuals, its not a sexual thrill, we are just being whom we are.

Gender reassignment is a long and costly process, both emotionally costly and surgery is financially out of reach for some. Despite this it doesnt change whom we are as we were born this way.

I’ve always thought it should be reported in a manner that will help provide leads or solve the crime. If the individual is know by certain names, behaviors, styles of dress, places frequented, than provide what is known, as it may help bring forward those with additional information.

The origin of the town name is not relevant to the story.

Pete Webb | March 9, 2011 5:47 PM

Thank you for sharing this story. It is heartbreaking to hear her dishonored in death by authorities. Hopefully by joining forces with local and national leaders we can honor Marcal’s life by putting an end to transphobia and hatred.

"Forrest City, Arkansas, is a rural town of about 14,000 people. It is named after the first Grand Master of the Klu Klux Klan Nathan Bedford Forest."

Yeah, that's a namesake you want to hold onto...(dripping with sarcasm here)

I hope they can find her killer. I hate that she was killed like that. It's horrible when anyone is murdered. I hate that hate crimes still exist and that this happened in the state in which I reside.

“We don’t know if it was a hate crime”
…..……well, obviously it was a suicide.

These are the sorts of stories I hate writing about, even if we need to read about them.

The sheriff called her a crossdresser, the person who knew her referred to her as he but said she identified as transgender.Does anyone know for sure if she lived fulltime or intended to? From the way the sheriff was talking I wasn't under the impression that he was trying to be deliberately disrespectful to the victim instead he was just putting the information he knew out there.A person is dead and people are squabbling over the persons gender identity leaves me wondering what is more important the gender identity or the death?
Aside from this person's death how can anyone expect the media to get right the pronouns when the word transgender is nothing more than a loosely defined umbrella term. That was supposed to include crossdressers as that is originally who it was intended to cover.If a married heterosexual crossdresser is murdered are you really supposed to refer to him as her simply because of what they were wearing at the time of their death? If I get murdered I can assure you my spirit will be extremely pissed off if someone refers to me as transgender or thinks its there right to hold a candle for me on the transgender day of remembrance. I solely identify as a woman born transsexual. But I can totally forgive media confusion because it's those who claim to represent me causing the confusion by using a loosely defined term meant for crossdressers.

I am a woman born transsexual who does not identify as transgender, and I would be far more angry if the police and news called me a "man in a dress" than if they used a vague term like transgender.

To me with as loosely defined as the word transgender is would be the same as implying I'm a man in a dress. Listen to what the person who new her said " I knew him, he idenfitied as transgender." Male pronouns means she thought of the word transgender and of Marcal as a men in a dress.

Except that for mainstream people who know of the term "transgender" they usually think it is just a gentler word for "transsexual". They don't know there IS any other type of transgender person. They don't think of transsexual women as "men in dresses" because of the association with the TG word; they just think that anyway. I know I got that accusation years before anyone was using the word "transgender".

As for Marcal's friend, I've seen several articles (including, you know, the one we're commenting on) that said Marcal was transitioned and identified as a woman. Her friend's unwillingness to honor that was between them.

That's not been my experience with heterosexual friends and family they have all watched enough tv shows to know that Transgender is an LGB(T?) umbrella term.I think in part because of that after I told my mother I transitioned she asked me if I was going to go out with a gay man, another transgender, or a lesbian.Not one of them a heterosexual man. My moms 67 years old it freaked me out that she could think up such a crazy question like that. After prodding her to find out what her source was she claimed Oprah. I'm pissed about it to this day and tempted to go on tv just to bitch Oprah out about it. I would have expected her to find out something like that from a Springer rerun but Oprah WTF.Seriously I have no use for the word transgender or the new PC term transwoman they're both junk terms meant to cause more confusion.Ts woman or Transsexual woman works for me and I'm not offended because it has the word sex in it. Some people just need to grow up and crawl out from that oppressive PC umbrella known as transgender.As for Marcal finding out who committed the murder and ensuring they get sentenced equally too if they murdered a woman or man should be a priority.Nobody should be denied justice according to race, gender status, sexual orientation or any of the other excuses that have been used to avoid or lighten sentences in the past.

Hmmm...ya know what Amy? I've noticed a lot of unity among Gay and Lesbian people(Bisexuals are the invisible middle child,IMHO), and maybe this is because they spend less time in a circular firing squad defining who is a "true" Gay or Lesbian person.

I don't want to start an HBS flame war, but I just gotta speak up.

There's a lot of ways to be trans, and the press just need to find a way to respect that;AP has figured it out.

Regan-spot on.

Regan DuCasse | March 10, 2011 3:38 PM

In a place this rural, or at least small, the routes, habits and essential attitudes are known to the most casual of acquaintances of victims AND possible suspects.

Marcal, as usually happens in towns like this was well known. It's highly unlikely that her killers didn't know she wasn't biologically male. And also highly unlikely they didn't know her at all.

What WE as the LGBT and their allies know, is that gay and trans folks are VERY specific targets for harassment, threat, torture and thrill kills.
And perps are usually more lucky, than smart.

This deserves the death penalty. The only way justice would be served is when the local investigators treat this issue with the same vigor they would, if it was a young white woman getting kidnapped along a stretch of open road and murdered so horribly.

Marcal was just as innocent and harmless a member of that town, and deserves no less attention.
Anyone who would do this, would do it to anyone.
The blood is in the water.

Hate crime...

It's interesting that you should mention that. Holding a Transgender Day of Remembrance each year, we're supposed to honor the memory of those transgender people that are victims of hate crime, but "hate crime" is supposedly a legal distinction. When the murders of transgender people are poorly or never investigated, poorly or never prosecuted, then a legal determination of "hate crime" can not be made.

As when a tree falls in the forest, if no one hears it, does it make a sound?

So when this sheriff, prosecutor, or news media tells us it is not a "hate crime" and the investigation dies, does that mean a hate crime wasn't committed? Hell fuckin' no!

With hundreds of dead transgender people all over the world each year, I'm not going to rely on a dipshit sheriff or even the FBI to tell me the person wasn't killed BECAUSE they were transgender. If a murder victim is transgender, chances are fantastically great it was because they were transgender. Why else would you shoot someone in the head, decapitate them, immolate them, dismember them, remove their genitalia, drag them, run over them, disembowel them, torture them, or bludgeon them?

Britany Somers | April 2, 2011 12:09 PM

So much for hand wringing.

Self hating bullies only comprehend one form of communication, getting pummeled into submission. I suggest we turn the tables and beat the living crap out of anyone who threatens us. In self defense, those of us who are licensed to carry should not hesitate blowing an assailant's brains all over the sidewalk.

All transgender organizations (across the board) do absolutely nothing to re-image us in the public eye. Until that happens, we'll have to grow our balls back.

Once more, using the word "Queer" in any organizational or community title not only lacks careful thought, it is alienating and contributes to negative marketing.

Britany Somers | April 2, 2011 12:55 PM

So much for hand wringing.

Self hating bullies only comprehend one form of communication, getting pummeled into submission. I suggest we turn the tables and beat the living crap out of anyone who threatens us. In self defense, those of us who are licensed to carry should not hesitate blowing an assailant's brains all over the sidewalk.

All transgender organizations (across the board) do absolutely nothing to re-image us in the public eye. Until that happens, we'll have to grow our balls back.

Once more, using the word "Queer" in any organizational or community title not only lacks careful thought, it is alienating and contributes to negative marketing.

Britany Somers | April 2, 2011 1:34 PM

So much for hand wringing.

Self hating bullies only comprehend one form of communication, getting pummeled into submission. I suggest we turn the tables and beat the living crap out of anyone who threatens us. In self defense, those of us who are licensed to carry should not hesitate blowing an assailant's brains all over the sidewalk.

All transgender organizations (across the board) do absolutely nothing to re-image us in the public eye. Until that happens, we'll have to grow our balls back.

Once more, using the word "Queer" in any organizational or community title not only lacks careful thought, it is alienating and contributes to negative marketing.