Earlier this month, Islan Nettles, a transgender woman, was attacked and killed in Harlem. The NYPD has reportedly said that Nettles was with her friends when one or more people attacked her while using anti-gay and anti-transgender slurs. She was taken to the hospital, but on August 22nd, was taken off life support. One person has been arrested.
"It is impossible to separate the bias and confusion about transgender individuals from the long history of violence against transgender communities," wrote ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio this week. "With questions circulating all week about who is deserving of medically necessary care and being talked about with dignity, the story of Islan Nettles reminds us that these are not insignificant questions, but life and death questions for many transgender people."
Nettles was only 21 years old.
A vigil was held at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, just down the street from where the incident took place. In attendance was Laverne Cox, the transgender actress who portrays Sophia Burset on Netflix's Orange is the New Black.
Cox is, in addition to being an actress, an advocate for transgender rights, and has received a great deal of attention since the show has attracted so much buzz. Her presence at the vigil has to have substantially raised awareness about the crime and the issue at hand.
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) August 28, 2013
Cox recently appeared with fellow OITNB cast members Kate Mulgrew and Uzo Aduba, as well as Piper Kerman, the author of the memoir upon which the show is based, on MSNBC. She also spoke about transgender rights in that discussion.
50 years after Matin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech about equality, hate crimes continue to occur much too frequently.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 53.8% of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims last year were transgender women [ACLU].
Image via ACLU