Transgender Houstonian’s murder remains unsolved

by Chris Seabury

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday February 4, 2010

A transgender Houstonian's murder last month is the latest in a series of unsolved homicides against the city's gender-variant residents.

Houston police officers found Myra Chanel Ical's badly bruised body in a vacant lot on Garrott Street near the Southwest Freeway in the Montrose neighborhood on Jan. 18. Police indicated the bruises were an obvious sign Ical, 51, had been beaten, but she tried to fight back against her assailant(s.)

Police are unsure a hate crime took place, but Sgt. Bobby Roberts said he hopes trans Houstonians will come forward.

"We're hoping that this particular community, the transgender community, reaches out to us and provides us with more information that helps us figure this out," he told Fox 26 upon arriving at the crime scene.

Ical's death is the seventh unsolved trans murder in Houston over the last decade. Local activists said this homicide is particularly troubling because it took place within a neighborhood that is popular among LGBT Houstonians.

"A lot of my friends live around here," Lou Weaver said. "I drive down this road constantly going to and from where I live."

More than 200 people attended a vigil on Jan 25, but Cristen Williams of Transgender of America said she feels local LGBT residents remain afraid to come forward.

"The LGBT community feels very isolated because of the Houston Police Department's (HPD) often violent past towards LGBT Houstonians," Williams said. "When a murder or some other crime involving a transgender victims take place, HPD wants the help of the LGBT community. Because of the past history, many are afraid to talk with the police for fear of ridicule or outright discrimination."

She added she hopes the HPD will appoint an LGBT liaison to address their ongoing concerns.

"It has been difficult working with HPD because of the culture and the past," Williams said. "If they can appoint a liaison to the LGBT community, the HPD would find that we would feel more respected and safer. When this happens; seeking the assistance of different community members will be much easier."