The first transgender woman in US history will be executed today.
Amber McLaughlin will receive the lethal injection for killing her ex-girlfriend in 2003 unless Missouri Gov. Mike Parson grants clemency.
Before transitioning, the 49-year-old was in a relationship with girlfriend Beverly Guenther.
But when things got bad, McLaughlin began following Ms. Guenther to the office where she worked, sometimes hiding in it, and killed her in November 2003, according to court records.
In 2006, she was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
The court ordered a new sentencing hearing in 2016, but a federal appeals court panel reinstated the death penalty in 2021.
The clemency plea on behalf of McLaughlin focuses on several issues, including her childhood trauma and mental health issues, which the jury never heard about during her trial.
According to the petition, when she was a toddler, foster parents wiped her face with feces while her foster father pointed a stun gun at her.
She is said to have suffered from depression and attempted suicide several times.
The petition also includes reports citing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a condition that causes distress and other symptoms due to a difference between a person’s gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth.
“We think Amber has shown incredible courage because I can tell you there’s a lot of hate on this issue,” said McLaughlin’s attorney, Larry Komp.
But, he added, McLaughlin’s sexual identity was not the “primary focus” of the clemency plea.
No known cases of transgender prisoners Executed in the United States Earlier, according to the Anti-Execution Death Penalty Information Center.
Cellmate Jessica Hicklin said she watched McLaughlin’s character blossom during the transition.
Although held together for about a decade, she said McLaughlin was so shy that they rarely interacted. But when McLaughlin began her transition about three years ago, she turned to Hicklin for guidance on issues such as mental health counseling and for help ensuring her safety in the male-dominated maximum-security prison.
“Definitely a vulnerable person,” Hickling said. “The absolute fear of being attacked or victimized is more common among trans people in the Department of Corrections.”
The only woman to be executed in Missouri was Bonnie Heady, who was executed in 1953 for kidnapping and killing a 6-year-old boy.
Heady was executed in the gas chamber, along with another kidnapper and killer, Carl Austin Hall.
Nationwide, 18 people have been executed in 2022, including two in Missouri.
Kevin Johnson, 37, was executed for ambush to kill a Missouri police officer. Carman Deck was executed in May for the robbery of James and Zelma Long at their DeSoto, Missouri, home.
Another Missouri inmate, Leonard Taylor, was slated to die in February after killing his girlfriend and her three young children.