Missouri Set for First Execution of Trans Woman

    Missouri Set for First Execution of Trans Woman
    Last updated Jan 03, 2023
    Image credit: Federal Public Defender Office/AP [via CBS]


    • Amber McLaughlin, 49, is set to become the first openly transgender woman executed in the US on Tuesday after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson rejected a request to grant clemency.[1]
    • Before transitioning, McLaughlin had been in a relationship with Beverly Guenther, who later filed for a restraining order. Guenther was found raped and murdered after neighbors reported she hadn't come home on Nov. 20, 2003.[1]
    • Officers went to Guenther's office, where they found evidence of foul play, after which McLaughlin led them to her body near the Mississippi River in St. Louis. McLaughlin was convicted in 2006, and after the jury was deadlocked on the sentencing, a judge ordered the death penalty.[2]
    • A court ordered a new sentencing hearing in 2016, but a federal appeals court in 2021 upheld the death penalty. McLaughlin's attorney filed a petition for clemency that cites physical abuse as a foster child and multiple suicide attempts last month.[3]
    • McLaughlin began transitioning about three years ago and was mentored by fellow transgender inmate Jessica Hicklin who won a lawsuit in 2018 that required the Missouri Dept. of Corrections to provide hormone treatment for transgender inmates.[4]
    • McLaughlin will become the latest inmate to be executed after 18 executions last year, two of which were in Missouri. The only woman to ever be executed in the state was Bonnie Heady in 1953 for killing a six-year-old boy.[5]


    Left narrative

    Amber McLaughlin endured a horrendously abusive childhood which led to her extremely depressive state as an adult. While there's no excuse for the murder, Gov. Parson should have chosen life in prison over the death penalty, especially given that the jury couldn't even agree on a sentence, coupled with Missouri being known for its overuse of the death penalty, which only serves to compound violence with violence.

    Right narrative

    Unfortunately, rough childhoods and depression are many people's reality, but this does not justify turning to crime. McLaughlin at the time was a man who raped and murdered his ex-girlfriend, just as many violent men have in the past. The death penalty is reserved for only the most heinous of crimes, and McLaughlin's troubled background does not put her above the law.

    Political split



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