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Transgender woman killed in possible Oakland hate crime

May 4, 2012 |  8:54 am

A transgender woman was shot to death in downtown Oakland earlier this week; friends believe she was killed because of her gender identity.

The Oakland Tribune reported that the victim was born Milton Massey Jr. of Hayward but identified as Brandy Martell. The 37-year-old was killed about 5:20 a.m. Sunday as she sat in a car with three transgender women friends at 13th and Franklin streets.

The motive of the killing was unclear, but police told the newspaper that a hate crime is a possible motive.

Tiffany Woods, Massey’s former supervisor at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont, said the friends were hanging out in the car when they were approached by two men. When Martell and her friends told the men they were transgender, the men left.

Later, the men returned and shot Martell, Woods told the San Francisco Chronicle. No one else in the car was injured.

The men "could have just said they weren’t cool with it and walked away," Woods said. "But they decided to come back and engage in quick and violent confrontation."

Woods runs TransVision, a resource program for transgender women. She said Martell worked with her for four years and was respected by many in the transgender community.

She said transgender women often gather in downtown Oakland to prostitute themselves, but Martell had never done so.

"She was funny, loved and valued," Woods told the newspaper.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

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