Mercedes WilliamsonAge 17
30 May 2015
Rocky Creek, Texas (USA)
TDoR list ref: tgeu/not reported/Mercedes Williamson
Mercedes was killed by her boyfriend (a street gang member) on Saturday 30th May after he learnt that one of his friends had discovered that she was transgender.
Her body was found several days later.
The 17-year-old, who was estranged from her family because she was transgender, had been living as a girl from age 14.
Friends and Jeanie told police Mercedes had been in a relationship with Joshua Vallum for several months, breaking up the previous year.
Vallum, 28, a member of the notorious Latin Kings gang, had connections to the criminal underworld.
Mercedes confided in Jeanie that their relationship was very dangerous, as the gang was anti homosexual behaviour. She said if they found out, both her and Vallum would be killed.
In May 2017 Joshua Vallum, 29, was sentenced to 49 years in prison under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Mercedes' murder was the first ever murder of a transgender person to be successfully prosecuted under the Act.
Harper Jean Tobin, spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), a Washington DC advocacy group, said the murder was part of an “epidemic of violence against transgender people” in the United States.
“It’s essential that biased crime against trans people be recognized as a serious national problem,” she said in a phone interview.
TvT project: HRC Blog 23.06.2015 & Al.com 25.06.2015