Mother of American missing in the Bahamas concealed transgender identity of her daughter

Mother of American missing in the Bahamas concealed transgender identity of her daughter

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The mother of an American woman, Taylor Casey, who vanished in the Bahamas last month during a yoga retreat, has revealed that her daughter is transgender. She had initially withheld this information, fearing it might hinder the search efforts. Casey, last seen on June 19, has had her mother and friends tirelessly working to locate her. They’ve set up social media campaigns, started a GoFundMe for legal expenses, and issued detailed press releases. However, a recent release was the first to disclose Casey’s gender identity.

Colette Seymore, Casey’s mother, expressed her concern that attention might divert from locating her child to discussions about Casey being transgender. She emphasized that the primary focus should remain on finding Taylor, an American citizen who has gone missing in the Bahamas.

Seymore didn’t initially think it necessary to share Casey’s gender identity, but she and Casey’s friends believe that if Casey were white and cisgender, she would have been found by now. “Without a doubt,” said Seymore, 69. “There would have been more effort, and the investigation would have been conducted properly.”

Local authorities have not suggested foul play. They were aware of Casey’s gender identity, according to Seymore and close friend Emily Williams. Of the 321 murders of trans and gender-nonconforming people worldwide from October 2022 to September 2023, 74% occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 91% of victims being trans women or female-presenting people of color, according to a study by Transgender Europe. Human Dignity Trust states that consenting same-sex sexual behavior is still partially illegal in the Bahamas.

Casey was participating in a yoga instructor program at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas when she disappeared. Her cellphone was found in the ocean nearby, but her passport remains missing. The ashram is located on Paradise Island, known for its luxurious resorts. Casey, an avid yogi for 15 years, seemed herself in phone calls to her mother until the day she went missing, expressing difficulty with the program.

“Taylor told me, ‘Ma, this is hard,’ which was unusual for her,” Seymore recalled. Later, Seymore and Williams learned that Casey seemed isolated and did not integrate well into the program. She was the only Black and transgender participant among the 14 retreat attendees. “We suspect that these factors played a significant role in Taylor’s challenges,” Williams commented.

Close friend Jacqueline Boyd suggested that Casey’s increased trust in recent years might have played a role in her disappearance. “Something not okay has happened to Taylor,” Boyd said. “We would have heard from her if there was another option.”

On June 20, Seymore was informed by the retreat that Casey was missing. The ashram staff reported her disappearance to the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), but Seymore and Williams encountered conflicting information from authorities and inadequate search efforts.

The RBPF, which has faced corruption allegations, has stated that they are prioritizing the case. Chief Superintendent Michael Johnson, who leads criminal investigations, has been placed on “garden leave” due to unrelated corruption allegations.

Seymore and Williams criticized the ashram for providing inconsistent details and deterring them from gathering information from other guests. Jonathan Goldbloom, a spokesperson for the retreat, defended the ashram’s actions, stating they informed the police and kept everyone updated.

Seymore is now urging American authorities to take over the case and has been in contact with the U.S. Embassy and senators’ offices for assistance. Seymore and others will conduct a press conference in Chicago on Casey’s 42nd birthday to continue their advocacy on her behalf.

“Taylor, we love you. We miss you. We want you home,” Seymore said through tears. “Happy birthday. Happy birthday, Taylor.”

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