Thursday, September 29, 2011

Violent Attacks On Transgender People Raise Alarm [NPR]

"We have become the target, and someone has to be responsible for it,"
Ruby Corado says. "In my opinion, it really starts with the accountability of
those that are out there to protect us."
A series of shootings and violent attacks put Washington, D.C.'s transgender community on edge this summer. Police hesitate to call the attacks hate crimes, but they've stepped up their patrols. Still, the transgender community is demanding more action.

It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon on Dix Street in northeast Washington. The neighborhood is a popular gathering place for transgender women, but tensions arose when Lashai Mclean, 23, was murdered here in late July.

Days after the shooting, transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado held a vigil for Mclean. Today marks the first time they've returned to the site since then — and they are shocked by what they see.

The singed and severed legs of a teddy bear are strewn across the street, and floral bouquets are charred black. Corado and Budd find that the makeshift memorial they had left behind has been torched.

Budd sees the vandalism as an omen.

"It was a clear message to us that we're not welcome, and that what happened to Lashai could happen to any of us," she says.

Days after Mclean's murder, another transgender woman was shot, just one block away.

And on Aug. 26, an off-duty police officer stood on the hood of a car and shot through its windshield, hitting two transgender women and a male friend, wounding one critically. The officer is a 20-year veteran of the city's police force and is currently in jail, awaiting trial.

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