For Immediate Release: September 26, 2008
Kentucky Fairness Alliance calls for Accurate & Inclusive Coverage of Nakhia Williams’ Murder
Suspects have not been found
Frankfort, KY: Late last month, a 29 year-old African American transgender woman named Nakhia Williams was brutally murdered outside her Louisville home. Williams, known as Nikki to her friends, had long been open and proud about who she was. A writer and painter, Williams was an active member of her community and touched many lives.
On August 20, a few days shy of her 30th birthday, police found the fatally wounded Williams by a dumpster just outside her apartment building. She was rushed to the hospital, and her shooting was classified as a murder when she died, ten days after she was shot.
Louisville police are still searching for those responsible for this senseless crime, but Christina Gilgor, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, says local media could do more to help. “Williams’ murder only generated two local news stories after she died, a full ten days after she was shot. Furthermore, two stations covering a story that has left family members baffled, used highly problematic terminology and inaccurate pronouns that disrespect Nakhia’s innate sense of who she was.”
Paul Karr, the Director of Media Field Strategy at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, agrees that media outlets have generally ignored this story, and that the scant coverage was problematic. “Both outlets that reported on this story, FOX WDRB and CBS WLKY, ignored GLAAD’s requests to change inaccurate terminology and follow up on this story. Our phone calls and emails to WLKY offering resources for reporting on the transgender community went unanswered. The lack of response by these media outlets is disheartening to say the least.”
Monica Roberts, a prominent leader in the African American transgender community, was a friend of Williams and attended her funeral. She expressed her sadness as well, “Nearly one month after her shooting, I’m upset that no local or national media outlets have followed up on her murder, on the mourning of her friends and family, or on any updates in the police investigation. We need answers about this senseless crime. Since those responsible for murdering Nakhia have not yet been found, there is still time to do justice to her memory.”
The murder of Nakhia Williams marks the 6th high-profile murder of a transgender or gender non-conforming woman of color since the beginning of this year. Gilgor and the Kentucky Fairness Alliance cite this tragedy as the reason that “Gender identity must be added to Kentucky’s hate crimes statute” and urge law enforcement to investigate whether Nakhia’s murder was a hate crime.
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With over 10,000 members, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance seeks to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through leadership development, public education and by encouraging participation in the democratic process.
The Ampersand symbolizes the solidarity we are building through Friends & Family, and suggests the inclusiveness we are working toward. It reflects the idea that no one individual, legislator, organization, or city can carry all the water for equality. Our success lies in our solidarity.