A transgender woman was found dead near an Orlando, Fla. apartment complex on Thursday, Orlando Weekly reports.
Law enforcement said the body of 27-year-old Sasha Garden had signs of trauma when it was discovered.
“She was traveling a lot, trying to find a new home and find herself,” Mulan Montrese Williams, an outreach coordinator for Miracle of Love, an HIV/AIDS organization told Orlando Weekly.
Williams said that Garden has been living in Orlando on and off for two years after moving there from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Garden was reportedly a sex worker who had goals on becoming a stylist, per Orlando Weekly. Williams, who also used to be a sex worker, said that Garden was most likely working when her body was found.
“You know when something happens, we don’t call [the] police. We don’t want to be judged by the police. We don’t want to be misgendered by officers – they still tell us, ‘We have to call you by your government name, what’s on your ID.'”
Despite Williams telling Orange County officials, who came to visit her to help identify the body, that Garden identified as a woman, their report described her as a man who “was wearing a wig and was dressed as a female,” which was picked up by local news stations, according to Orlando Weekly.
“As soon as I opened the door, I get, ‘I hear a bunch of transvestites stay here.’ I had to let them know, I’m a transgender woman and I’m the only one that stays here,” she said when officers came to her home in order to identify Garden.
Garden’s death comes at a time when trans women, especially trans women of color, are facing an increased threat of violence.
Three transgender women were killed in Jacksonville earlier this year and many in the community are scared following Garden’s death, Wiliams told Orlando Weekly.
“I’m trying to get them some mace, something for them to protect themselves as they’re going to work out here. For some of them, this is their livelihood.”
Williams said that Garden wasn’t afraid and often defended her “womanhood.”
“She was a firecracker – very outspoken,” she said. “She didn’t hold her tongue for anyone or anybody. Her womanhood was one of those things she stood up for. She didn’t tolerate any disrespect at all.”