Group calls for change after transgender woman killed at hotel

Authorities identified Celine Walker as man when she was murdered

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A transgender advocacy group is calling for change in the way transgender people are identified by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

This comes after authorities identified 36-year-old Celine Walker as Cedric Walker after she was found shot to death earlier this month at an Extended Stay America hotel near the St. Johns Town Center.

"I'm here to be the voice for her and all of the rest of the transgender women who don't have a voice that have been murdered," transgender activist Paige Mahogany Parks said.

Walker's supporters gathered at a vigil Saturday at Friendship Fountain to remember her life.

Walker's friends said she was outstanding.

"She lived her life as a woman. She lived her life in peace," Parks said. "From what I gathered, she was a decent person."

Walker was killed Feb. 4 at the Extended Stay America on Skinner Lake Drive. Police have not said anything about their investigation since her body was found, but friends believe her death may have been a hate crime because Walker was transgender.

"You have a lot of guys who use the excuse that transgender women are running around here, fooling guys. Honey, this is not 1918. This is not Jerry Springer. Nobody's being fooled anymore," Parks said. "You know what you're getting yourself into."

Friends met at the Friendship Fountain to honor Walker and to bring awareness to what they call misgendering of transgender people.

A woman who said she worked at the hotel where Walker was killed has left the job.

"Me being trans myself, I have a lot to worry about. So I called them and got the response I wasn't looking for, so I had to resign from my job because I didn't feel safe going into an environment that did not protect me," London Gore said. "We're human. We love like you love, hurt like you hurt, bleed like you bleed, the same color. We just want to be treated equally and to know our lives matter, to me anybody's lives matter."

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