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US executes first transgender woman despite brain damage, clemency pleas

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Amber McLaughlin is the first openly transgender woman to be executed in the United States. Her plea for clemency was rejected by Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike Parson on January 3, 2023. (Photo by AP)

A transgender woman has been put to death in the first such execution in the United States despite suffering brain damage as a child and multiple appeals for clemency.

A statement from the state prison department said on Tuesday Amber McLaughlin, 49, was pronounced dead shortly before 7 p.m. local time at the Diagnostic and Correctional Center in the town of Bonne Terre, Missouri. She died by lethal injection.

McLaughlin was the first person to die by capital punishment this year in the US. She was accused of raping and murdering a former friend in 2003 in a suburb of St. Louis. In 2006, a jury found McLaughlin guilty of murder but was deadlocked on what her punishment should be. A judge sentenced McLaughlin to death after a jury was unable to decide on death or life in prison without parole.

A federal judge in St. Louis ordered a new sentencing hearing in 2016, citing concerns about the effectiveness of McLaughlin’s trial lawyers and faulty jury instructions. But in 2021, a federal appeals court panel reinstated the death penalty.

McLaughlin’s counsel said she did not deserve to be put to death.

Republican Governor Mike Parson was begged to spare her from being executed citing mental health issues and a troubled childhood. According to a letter sent to Parson, her foster parent rubbed feces in her face when she was a toddler and her adoptive father tased her. She tried to kill herself multiple times, both as a child and as an adult.

McLaughlin’s lawyers also cited her traumatic childhood and mental health issues. They also listed the jury’s indecision and McLaughlin’s remorse as reasons Parson should spare her life. The lawyers also argued the trial judge imposed the death penalty after the trial jury was split on a punishment. At the time of the trial, the jury was also deprived of crucial mental health evidence.

"The death sentence now being considered does not come from the conscience of the community -- but from a single judge," her attorneys argued in their clemency request.

A doctor was set to testify about McLaughlin’s mental illness, but on the day of his testimony, it was discovered that he had committed misconduct during medical school.

Her cause had drawn support from high-profile people. In a letter to the governor, two Missouri members of the House of Representatives said, "Alongside this horrendous abuse, she was also silently struggling with her identity, grappling with what we now understand is gender dysphoria."

The issue has drawn more attention in recent months, with the supreme court of Ohio upholding a death sentence against a transgender woman and Oregon state commuting one.

At least nine percent of Missouri’s prison population is female. 

Women in the US are subjected to abuse and violence every day. 81 percent of women in the States have reported some sort of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Women normally do not get paid as much as men for performing the same job.

Women are extremely valuable but unfortunately, they are not appreciated, they are downright degraded and abused in society and at home, often in the name of freedom.

In February 2022, a damning investigation by the Associated Press into rampant sexual abuse at a women-only federal prison in Dublin, California, sent shockwaves across the country.

Inmates recounted harrowing experiences of how they were subjected to abhorrent sexual abuse and torture by predatory prison officials, including the warden, at the detention facility dubbed ‘rape club.’

The abuse at the Bay Area prison blew the lid off the epidemic of sexual abuse plaguing the US Bureau of Prisons, with at least 422 complaints of staff-on-inmate sexual abuse at 122 prisons only in 2020.

The United States along with some European countries has been regarded as the worst women's rights violators.

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