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Murders of Five Transgendered Persons: Do We Have Another Serial Killer? (1992)

Murders of Five Transgendered Persons: Do We Have Another Serial Killer? (1992)

©1992, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991). Murders of five transgendered persons: Do we have another serial killer? Hotspots, p. 15. (I’m not sure of the issue number or month of publication.)

Photo: Grave marker for Hurriel Lemont Lockett, murdered 14 October, 1991 in Atlanta. She is interred in Mobile, Alabama.



Murders of Five Transgendered Persons

Do We Have Another Serial Killer?

By Dallas Denny

American Educational Gender Information Service, Inc.


We all remember the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, don’t we? Norman Bates, chillingly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is the deranged killer who assumes his dead mother’s persona by dressing up in her clothes and brutally stabbing Janet Leigh to death. Robert Bloch, the screenwriter, drew on the real-life case of Ed Gein, a Midwestern recluse who had murdered any number of women and the contents of whose freezer made Jeffrey Daumer’s look tame by comparison.

Gein was probably not a transvestite, but among his grisled human mementoes was found a half-completed suit of human skin; he was making a girl suit, like Jaimie Gumb, the villain in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs—a movie which was also based on the Gein case, with the added spice of making Jaimie a failed transsexual. FBI agent Clarice Starling’s assertion that transsexual people are not prone to violence was a whisper lost in the scream of Jaimie’s “transsexualism.” What people remember is one more genderfuck killer.

The Silence of the Lambs is no different from any number of films and television shows since Psycho which have portrayed the transvestite as criminal. (Spoiler warning here: skip to the next paragraph if you plan to see The Crying Game). Even in 1992’s The Crying Game, which treats the transgendered main character in a sympathetic light, when it comes right down to it, she is the one who does the killing. Her IRA tough guy just isn’t up to it.

This, then, is the entertainment industry’s vision of transgendered persons. The reality of psychologists and physicians is not much different. The scientific literature has shown transgendered persons are surprisingly nonagressive. Nonetheless, at least one author has gone out of his way to make the connection. In a paper published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 1982, A.D. Milliken begins by stating that it took him considerable effort to come up with three cases in which transsexual persons committed or attempted homicide. It is more likely the subjects’ histories of childhood abuse, life on the street as prostitutes, substance abuse, self-mutilation, rapes, and in one instance, obvious schizophrenia were much more significant as causative factors in the assaults than the gender dysphoria, but, as if The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry were a tabloid instead of a reputable scientific journal, the transsexualism was chosen as the focus. One need only substitute the words physicians or diabetics or children with leukemia for the word transsexuals in the title of the paper, “Homicidal transsexuals: Three cases,” to see how outrageous it was that the paper was accepted for publication: “Homicidal heart patients: Three cases.”

In the movies, transgendered persons are killers. In the scientific literature they are not, but it’s clear it would be nice if they could be. And then we have the reality. The reality is transgendered persons are rejected by families, discriminated against in the job market, spurned by radical feminists, who insist on their exclusion from womyn-only events, sexually exploited by men, held in generally low esteem in the gay community, targeted by law enforcement agencies, harassed or beaten by gay bashers if they are not “passable,” and murdered in the streets.

Murdered in the streets. Transgendered persons are found dead in large cities with surprising regularity, making one wonder if perhaps some “Handcuff Man” is travelling around the country, killing transsexual people. If so, no one would ever know, for the death of a transgendered person is of little consequence in our kindler, gentler society.

But even for the disenfranchised, there is a limit beyond which it is impossible to ignore their mistreatment. In the past eighteen months, five transgendered people have been murdered in the Atlanta streets, their bodies found alongside the interstate or in back yards or in empty lots. All were black, all were shot in the head, all disappeared from the inner city, and at least four of the five were apt to get into cars with men for money or kicks. Three were killed in the fall of 1991, and two in the fall of 1992.

After the third killing the television stations and newspapers began to take notice. Police that they were treating the matter seriously, but there was no reason to suspect the killings were related. They still maintain this.

Atlanta is a city with a remembrance of serial killings. Ten years ago, black children were disappearing from the streets. National media attention was focused on Atlanta, and the police were under a great deal of pressure to come up with the killer. They did, eventually, find a suspect—Wayne Williams, who was convicted of murder even as the killings continued. Many say he was a scapegoat.

We have as a result of the 1980 Atlanta serial killings a government skilled at throwing a body to the wolves when the wolves are drawing near. But we also have a city government which doesn’t want any negative publicity in the quiet before the 1996 Olympic Games. It’s clear Atlanta officials don’t want to acknowledge another serial killer, just as they did didn’t want to acknowledge several years ago that Robert Bennett, the Handcuff Man, had been systematically tying up and burning gay men over a period of ten years.

It’s time for Atlanta officials to look beyond their Olympic aspirations and seriously consider the possibility that the five murders are the work of a serial killer.