The US carries out the first execution of a transgender person

A transgender woman convicted of murder was executed late Tuesday in the first execution of its kind in the United States, officials said.

Amber McLaughlin, 49, was pronounced dead at the Diagnostic and Correctional Center in the city of Bonne Terre, Missouri, shortly before 7 p.m. local time, according to a statement from the state prisons department.

Local news station Fox2now reported that McLaughlin died from lethal injection.

Watch: Transgender prisoner executed for fatal stabbing

First transgender person to be executed

McLaughlin was the first transgender person of either sex to be executed in the country, and also the first person to die from the death penalty in America this year.

She was convicted in 2003 of murdering a former girlfriend in suburban St. Louis before transferring.

McLaughlin tracked the victim to the point where the ex-partner applied for a restraining order.

On the day of the murder, McLaughlin was waiting for the woman, named Beverly Guenther, when she left work.

Günther was raped and stabbed with a kitchen knife. Her body was dumped near the Mississippi River.

death penalty

In 2006, a jury found McLaughlin guilty of murder but deadlocked on what her punishment should be.

The trial judge intervened and imposed the death penalty. Such interventions are legal in both Missouri and Indiana.

Citing the fact that a jury had not sentenced McLaughlin to death, her attorneys asked Gov. Mike Parson to commute her sentence to life in prison.

“The death sentence that is now being considered does not come from the conscience of the general public – but from a single judge,” argued lawyers in their petition for clemency.

They also argued that McLaughlin had a troubled childhood and suffered from mental health issues.

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Her cause had garnered support from high-profile figures, including two members of the US House of Representatives from Missouri, Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver.

In a letter to the governor, they said McLaughlin’s adoptive father used to hit them with a baton and even verbally abused them with stun guns.

“Alongside this appalling abuse, she also silently struggled with her identity and grappled with what we now understand as gender dysphoria,” the letter reads. The condition describes people who feel that their sex at birth and their gender identity do not match.

According to press reports, McLaughlin began her gender reassignment surgery in recent years but remained on the men’s ward of Missouri’s death row.

The Death Penalty Information Center, which is campaigning to abolish this penalty in America, said there was no known previous instance of an openly transgender person being executed in the United States.

The issue has attracted more attention in recent months when the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against a transgender woman and a commuter court in Oregon state, the center said.

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