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04th Jan 2023

Transgender woman executed for first time in US history

Steve Hopkins

Amber McLaughlin killed and raped her former girlfriend

A prisoner in Missouri has become the first openly transgender woman to be executed in United States history.

Amber McLaughlin, 49, received the death penalty after being convicted of stalking, raping and killing former girlfriend, 45-year-old Beverly Guenther, in 2003, before she began to publicly identify as a woman.

A judge sentenced McLaughlin to death for the murder in 2006 after a jury was deadlocked on her sentence.

McLaughlin began her transition about three years ago while behind bars, and prior to her death, had petitioned Republican Governor Mike Parson to ask that he commute her death sentence.

He declined the request and McLaughlin was injected with a fatal dose of pentobarbital on Tuesday.

McLaughlin was pronounced dead at 6:51pm local time, the Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed in a written statement.

McLaughlin, who USA Today noted, had her spiritual adviser at her side, said in a final written statement before her death: “I am sorry for what I did,” McLaughlin said in a final, written, statement. “I am a loving and caring person.”

Of the 2,414 people on death rows nationwide as of April 1, 2022, 50 were women, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. There are no known previous cases in which an openly transgender person was executed, according to the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), USA Today reported.

The DPIC says McLaughlin is one of just 18 women who have been put to death in the US since 1976, when the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a brief suspension.

In her clemency request, McLaughlin’s cited her traumatic childhood and mental health issues, claiming she had suffered from depression and had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition which can create a sense of unease for someone who may have a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

Her lawyers added that McLaughlin had previously attempted suicide and noted that she had shown genuine remorse for her actions.

In a statement referring to McLaughlin by her name and gender identity before she transitioned, Parson confirmed the State of Missouri would carry out the death penalty sentence, saying  Guenther’s “family and loved ones deserve peace”.

Since Parson took office in June 2018, five executions have taken place in Missouri after he declined to grant clemency in each case, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Guenther and McLaughlin had split up prior to Guenther’s death in 2003. The victim had received an order of protection against McLaughlin after she was arrested for burglarising  Guenther’s home.

A few weeks after the order came into effect, McLaughlin approached Guenther outside her workplace before stabbing and sexually assaulting her.

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