The Clarion Ledger reports that the first homicide of a transgender person took place in Madison County, Mississippi, on Wednesday, January 4, 2017. This is the nation’s first recorded murder of a transgender individual for the year.

Per the Madison County spokesperson, the authorities received the call about a possible death at approximately 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. The Coroner stated the body of Mesha Caldwell was found on Heindl Road and Old Yazoo City Road. Her death is a homicide, but cause of death is still pending autopsy.

The authorities are unable to comment at this time on whether Mesha’s gender identity had any impact on the motive for the case, for which the investigation is still ongoing.

Mesha was a much beloved hair and makeup artist in Canton, Mississippi. Her friend, Evonne Kaho, is the CEO of the transgender nonprofit Love Me Unlimited 4 Life.
“She was a happy person that loved everyone and never met a stranger,” Kaho said. “For me as a black transgender woman and the leader of the community, it’s a very hard pill to swallow.”

“This is a tragic event, and it not only impacts the trans community, but the community as a whole,” she said. “Each time a person of trans experience is killed or experiences violence against them, it is an assault against all of the ideals that we as a country stand for. The ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of being who we want to be and being entitled to do so without persecution.”

The following is a tribute to Mesha by Tiommi Jenae Luckett, the Communications Coordinator at The Well Project.

#MeshaCaldwell has become the first reported murder of a transgender woman of 2017 in Jackson, Mississippi. Oftentimes, our names are not mentioned nor our lives celebrated as we fight simply for the right to live. That’s it. In a nutshell! We who are of trans experience are not seen, nor heard, nor valued, respected, nor deemed worthy to breathe!! Why? I really need to know why? I can’t fathom what living must be like for those who are enslaved and nurtured, wholly and blindly blanketed within the cloak of white supremacy! To value a life as little as they value yours!

I didn’t know #MeshaCaldwell. I hadn’t ever heard her name spoken before today. Yet and still, the impact is real with the knowledge that her absence here with us today was most likely the result of being transgender. The original report misgendered her and the follow up report removed gender altogether, (a body). The erasure is real and its effects are real! (Facebook)

Mesha was a beautiful woman, and I am sure her pictures do not even do her justice. I hate that the only reason we are talking about her, that we are saying her name, is because she was “a first” to die this year. That is so unfair. Why is it that we never seem to celebrate people in life, but only in death? I am sure Mesha had a great deal to offer us, if only we had taken the time to listen. If only we had known what was to come, what was going to happen, we could have quieted ourselves and heard her.

Mesha, may you soar with the angels now. May you find peace. May your friends and family and community feel the love from around the country surrounding them and holding them up during this time they mourn you. May we all celebrate your life and your beauty, both outside and within.


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