US carries out first execution of a transgender person – Times of India


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WASHINGTON: Amber McLaughlin, a transgender woman, was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday night in Bonne Terre, Missouri. This marks the first time a transgender person has been put to death in the United States.
McLaughlin, 49, was convicted of murdering her ex-girlfriend, Beverly Guenther, in 2003. Guenther had sought a restraining order against McLaughlin, who had been stalking her. Guenther was raped and stabbed to death with a kitchen knife. Her body was dumped near the Mississippi river.
McLaughlin had a traumatic childhood and suffered from mental health issues, including severe depression and gender dysphoria. These issues were not presented at her trial. McLaughlin began transitioning approximately three years ago while in prison. McLaughlin’s sexual identity was not the main focus of her clemency request, according to her attorney, Larry Komp. In 2006, a judge sentenced McLaughlin to death after a jury deadlocked on the sentence.
McLaughlin’s lawyers had requested that Governor Mike Parson commute her sentence to life in prison, citing her troubled childhood and mental health issues. Despite support from prominent figures such as Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, both members of the US House of Representatives, McLaughlin’s sentence was not commuted. The Death Penalty Information Center, which aims to abolish the death penalty in the US, stated that this is the first known case of an openly transgender person being executed in the country.
The issue of capital punishment for transgender individuals has garnered increasing attention in recent months, with the Ohio Supreme Court upholding a death sentence for a transgender woman and the state of Oregon commuting a similar sentence.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has estimated there are 3,200 transgender inmates in the nation’s prisons and jails. Perhaps the best-known case of a transgender prisoner seeking treatment was that of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who served seven years in federal prison for leaking government documents to Wikileaks until President Barack Obama commuted the sentence in 2017. The Army agreed to pay for hormone treatments for Manning in 2015.
Nationally, 18 people were executed in 2022, including two in Missouri. Kevin Johnson was put to death in November for the ambush killing of a Kirkwood, Missouri, police officer. Carman Deck was executed in May for killing James and Zelma Long during a robbery at their home in De Soto, Missouri.
Another Missouri inmate, Leonard Taylor, is scheduled to die Feb. 7 for killing his girlfriend and her three young children.
(With inputs from agencies)

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