aroundtheregion

South Dakota
A South Dakota Two-Spirit woman appears to be the second transgender victim of homicide in 2017, KSFY reports:

Friends of Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, a homicide victim discovered by Sioux Falls police Friday night, say she was a transgender woman.
Police were called to her apartment near 8th Street and N Cleveland avenue Friday night after a neighbor reported a strong odor coming from the apartment.
Sioux Falls police say evidence inside the apartment reveals Wounded Arrow’s death appears to be a homicide.
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, from Sioux Falls was a very active member of the group Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies. Members of the organization say Wounded Arrow was born a male but had transitioned to a female.
Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies says they believe Wounded Arrow is the first transgender homicide victim in South Dakota. They also said across the U.S., she is the second transgender homicide victim of 2017.

The Sioux Falls community gathered on Friday for a vigil outside Wounded Arrow’s apartment, the Argus Leader reports:

One by one, friends of Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow filled a white board with messages in her memory.
The 28-year-old Pine Ridge native was found dead in her Sioux Falls apartment about 9:15 p.m. Friday after a neighbor called police to report a strong odor coming from the unit.
Sioux Falls police are investigating the death near Eighth Street and north Cleveland Avenue as a homicide but released no other details.
At a vigil outside Wounded Arrow’s apartment Saturday evening, friends asked anyone with information about her death to come forward.
“We need justice and we will get it,” said Franklin Whiting, Jr., a friend and neighbor of Wounded Arrow.
Reina Parker, youth outreach director for the Center of Equality, a Sioux Falls-based nonprofit that advocates for LGBT rights, met Wounded Arrow at a Native American LGBT event six months ago.
Wounded Arrow identified as a transgender woman, friends said, and while she had struggles in life, family and her passions, she gave off an energy can came from a place of strength.
“She is the type of person that when she talks people stop to listen,” Parker said. “The impact she leaves on people after meeting her once is something nobody forgets.”

KSFY reports that police have arrested a suspect in Wounded Arrow’s death:

Authorities say the man arrested following the death of a Sioux Falls woman will face several charges, including first-degree murder.

According to Capt. Blaine Larsen of the Sioux Falls Police Department, 25-year-old Joshua LeClaire will be charged with first- and second-degree murder, two counts of first degree manslaughter, false impersonation, and possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.
His bond has been set at $2 million, and is expected to appear in court Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
LeClaire is accused of killing 28-year-old Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow. She was found dead January 6, though investigators believe she was killed January 1. LeClaire was arrested January 8.
Wounded Arrow was transgender, though Larsen says at this point in the investigation, they have no evidence that points towards it being a hate crime.
Court documents say LeClaire told investigators that he went to Wounded Arrow’s apartment on January 1 intoxicated and “blacked out.”
Investigators say Wounded Arrow was stabbed multiple times in her bedroom. Larsen says security footage from the scene led them to name LeClaire as a suspect.

Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies have launched a fundraiser for her family and tribe on GoFundMe:

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28yr old transgender murder victim in Sioux Falls, SD.
Jamie’s life was cut short by a senseless act. The Sioux Falls Two Spirit and Allies has created this gofundme on our own accord on behalf of Franklin Whiting Jr. in the hopes to raise money to help her family and tribe with the funeral expenses and anything the family will need in the coming days and months.
Jamie struggled but was ultimately a very strong person and would do anything she could to help those that needed anything. She will be terribly missed. She was fairly new to Sioux Falls. Originally from the Pine Ridge indian reservation and a proud Oglala Lakota trans woman… our hearts are broken as we will miss her very much.
Please do what you can to help, sharing or donating or even prayers and words of encouragement will go a long way in helping.
Jamie’s funeral services are yet to be determined, she is being brought to her home in Pine Ridge, SD for burial and funeral. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

Wisconsin
The ACLU of Wisconsin sharply criticized the state’s insurance board for bowing to religious right pressure to deny health care to transgender state employees. According to a press release from the ACLU:

The ACLU of Wisconsin condemned the Group Insurance Board’s capitulation to pressure from Attorney General Brad Schimel and Gov. Scott Walker’s insurance commissioner to rescind the GIB’s earlier decision to update state employees’ health insurance plans to cover transition-related care for transgender employees. The coverage of such medically necessary care, which was approved unanimously by the GIB in July 2016, was to take effect on January 1, 2017. But the GIB met on December 30, 2016, and, after three hours in closed session, voted to rescind these essential benefits, if certain conditions are met.
“The state’s willingness to pull the rug out from under its transgender employees by putting their access to coverage at risk is cruel and mean-spirited,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director Larry Dupuis. “After finally promising its employees access to care that the medical community agrees is necessary for many transgender individuals, the state has elected to renew its arbitrary targeting of transgender people for discrimination by forcing them to pay out-of-pocket for treatments that are available for non-transgender state employees to treat other medical conditions. The Board – which includes a designee from the Attorney General’s office – got it right in July when it unanimously ended this discriminatory exclusion. It should live up to the promise it made to its employees then.”
Dupuis and John A. Knight of the ACLU’s national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project represent two transgender state employees who filed challenges to the exclusion with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Those charges currently remain pending before the EEOC.

North Dakota
The North Dakota Senate is considering changing the states laws to reflect marriage equality, the Associated Press reports:

A North Dakota Senate committee is considering a measure that would update state law to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that declared same-sex couples have the right to marry.
The measure would update dozens of references such as “husband and wife” to gender-neutral terms.
The measure got its first hearing Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel will decide later whether to endorse the proposal.
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Kelly Armstrong, says he’s received more than 300 emails from both supporters and opponents of the measure. Armstrong says some want to keep references of husband and wife on the books as a protest to the high court ruling.
Jen Dunn of Bismarck says approving the measure will make state law consistent with the Supreme Court ruling.

Manitoba
A gay Syrian refugee has found a home in Winnipeg, the CBC reports:

First, his friend was beheaded. Then a transgender woman was raped, burned and mutilated.
Adam knew he had to leave Turkey, the country that took him in after he had fled Syria.
“I think I will be next,” he said when he phoned the United Nations in Istanbul, begging for help.
Adam, a gay Syrian man, recently arrived in Winnipeg.
Because he fears for his safety and reprisal for speaking out, CBC News is not using his real name.
Gay Syrian refugee finds acceptance in Canada after facing dire threats at home
Istanbul LGBT parade dispersed by tear gas, rubber bullets
The 26-year-old recalls celebrating when he arrived in Canada.
“It was like my dream happened,” he said.
Adam left Aleppo in 2011 before starting what became a five-year journey in search of freedom that included relocating to Russia and Turkey.
“I’m gay, but this is not acceptable there,” Adam said, speaking about Syria and Turkey.

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