Celine Walker
Screenshot: WTLV-TV

Three transgender women have been killed in Jacksonville, Fla., since the beginning of the year, and local activists fear that the slayings may be linked.

Cathalina Christina James
Screenshot: WTLV

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“The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened,” Gina Duncan, a transgender-rights advocate with Equality Florida, said in a statement Tuesday. “They fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets.”

Celine Walker, 36, was the first trans woman killed. She was found on Feb. 4 in a room at an Extended Stay America hotel, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Antash’a English, 38, was found shot in the abdomen between two abandoned houses on June 1; she later died in a hospital, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

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The third and youngest victim, Cathalina Christina James, 24, was found at a Quality Inn and Suites on Sunday, 10 miles from where Walker was found, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office says it doesn’t believe that any of the killings are related, but activists think otherwise.

Paige Mahogany, head of the Jacksonville Transgender Awareness Project, said that she thinks the relationship between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the local transgender community is an unsupportive one.

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Antash’a English
Screenshot: WTLV

“Every day, there are a lot of crimes not being reported, because when the sheriffs come out, the sheriffs make the girls feel like suspects, not victims,” Mahogany said. “A lot of these girls are being beaten up, they’re being robbed, they’re being assaulted, but they’re not reaching out to the police department.”

This evening, Wednesday, at 7 p.m. EDT, a Trans Lives Matter rally will be held in Jacksonville.

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Can we give the trans community the support they deserve?