HRC was shocked and saddened to learn that Brandi Bledsoe, a 32-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in Cleveland on Saturday. Authorities believe her death was likely the result of foul play.
Bledsoe’s body was found Saturday in the driveway behind a home, Cleveland.com reports. She had suffered head trauma, and her head was covered with a plastic bag. A Cleveland Division of Police spokesperson said the investigation was in its early stages, but will take Bledsoe’s transgender status into consideration when determining a motive for her death.
Bledsoe was an artist and worked at Home Depot. Bledsoe’s family members remembered her warmly, explaining that she came out as transgender only about two years ago. Until recently, she lived with her grandfather Johnnie Ledbetter, who told Cleveland.com they “got along great” and that he regretted not seeing more of her since she’d moved to a place of her own. Bledsoe’s cousin described her as a “sweet and warm” person who’d come out of her shell since her transition, and whose independent spirit had recently brought her new opportunities in life.
If Bledsoe’s death is indeed a homicide, she will be at least the 20th transgender person killed in the United States this year. Of the murders identified by HRC and other advocates, all but three victims have been transgender woman and 15, including Bledsoe, have been black. Last year, HRC and the Trans People of Color Coalition co-published a report on anti-transgender violence, highlighting how racism, anti-transgender stigma and sexism work together to put transgender women of color at risk for murder.
Since 2013, at least five other transgender women have been killed in Ohio. Two of the murders took place in Cleveland: Betty Skinner, a 52-year-old woman attacked in her apartment; and Brittany-Nicole Kidd-Stergis, a 22-year-old woman shot to death in her car. A third woman, CeCe Dove, was stabbed to death in Olmstead Township, a suburb of the city.
HRC extends sincere condolences to Ms. Bledsoe’s family, friends and community.