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Terrianne Summers Remembered
-Investigation Demanded

Compiled by GayToday
National Transgender Advocacy Coalition

Jacksonville, Florida--Terrianne Summers, 51, a murdered transgendered activist was laid to rest during the Christmas holidays. She was found shot to death outside her Jacksonville, home Wednesday, December 13, 2001. To date, police have no leads on either the perpetrator or a motive.

In a memorial service that packed The Norm, a neighborhood haunt frequented by Terrianne, family and friends from around the state and the nation gathered to remember her life and her work.
Terrianne Summers

"Terrianne unified this community," said Cindy Watson, executive director of the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN). "I've never seen anyone with her energy or her drive. In fact, I'd never even met anyone who was trangendered before … after meeting Terrianne, I knew all about transgenders."

Ms. Summers, a 22-year Navy veteran, was the driving force behind the local Winn-Dixie protest at their corporate headquarters in Jacksonville. Her organizing in the local community against the regional supermarket chain was perhaps the crucial element in making the ongoing suit against Winn-Dixie effective. "She really got JASMYN heavily involved in the Winn-Dixie protest," added Cindy Watson during the memorial.

The suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Winn-Dixie pits the corporate supermarket giant against crossdresser Peter Oiler. Oiler was fired January 5, 2000 after he told a supervisor that he crossdressed occasionally. As a result, the ACLU and TBLG activists from around the nation organized a protest at the company's Jacksonville headquarters.

Ms. Summers worked closely with the local ACLU, giving a thorough education on transgender issues.

"A co-worker once told me to be kind to everyone you meet. We all have our personal battles to fight," said Kevin Hurley, president of the Jacksonville ACLU. "Terrianne truly had her battles to fight. And Terrianne was unfailingly kind."

"Terrianne was an activist's activist," opined Vanessa Edwards Foster of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC). "She didn't get a lot of national notice. But the true measure of an activist is not how much press you get, it's how effective you are. Terrianne was effective."

"Terrianne truly saved my life," stated Summers' roommate Marie. "She showed me I wasn't such a bad person for being a transsexual … she taught me self-worth."

The most poignant words came from Terrianne's father and siblings, who traveled down for the memorial service. They related how they joked on the telephone about their getting the pronouns wrong, or calling her by her old name. Terrianne was very easy with it all; a fact that endeared her to her family. Joe Heiney, a World War II Navy veteran said "I'm very proud of my son - my daughter. Terrianne, Gary … she was something special to bring all these people together."

"I flew down here from Wyoming, the state where Matthew Shepard was killed. Please don't judge the whole state for that!" remarked Terrianne's oldest brother, Joel Heiney.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Transgender Activist Gunned Down in Jacksonville Florida

Winn-Dixie says Shut Up to

Transgender Equality:A Handbook for Activists Published

Related Sites:
National Transgender Advocacy Coalition
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In a more somber tone, Joel remembered "the trials for Matthew Shepard's killers, and the pain on the faces of Shepard's parents. I never thought that a couple years later, I'd be speaking before a roomful of people at [Terrianne's] memorial service; and looking across the room and seeing that same look of pain on my father's face."

The local community, as well as the state and national transgender community, is concerned now with the motive for the slaying. Initial police reports tagged it as a robbery attempt; however, nothing was taken or disturbed during the incident. Information from the authorities is also sketchy and slow in coming, frustrating many in the local community. At the memorial service, Jessica Archer of Equality Florida, JASMYN's Ms. Watson, and Ms. Foster from NTAC all called for a thorough investigation of her death.

"If this incident would have happened to anyone else, Terrianne would have called for this to be fully and vigorously investigated," stated NTAC Vice Chair and Media Director, Vanessa Edwards Foster. NTAC, as well as Equality Florida, JASMYN and other activist organizations around the nation, are urging a "full and vigorous investigation into the circumstances surrounding Terrianne's murder."

"She would want justice to be served."

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