Tag Archives: media

Take Action! Next Steps After the Rally Against Police Violence

Thank you to everyone who came to the emergency Rally Against Police Violence! Around 70 people turned out with under four hours notice. (Click here for photos and media coverage.) Violence takes an emotional toll on all of us, and seeing such tangible support goes a long way toward community healing and regaining our sense of empowerment. We heard from representatives of DCTC, HIPS, Latin@s en Accion, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, and Rainbow Response. Ward 6 City Council member Tommy Wells and individual survivors of violence also spoke. You all have our deep, heartfelt thanks!

So, what next? Already in 2011, MPD has reported 1 murder, 3 assaults with deadly weapon, 1 rape, 2 simple assaults, and 1 incidence of threats against trans women linked to anti-trans bias. Due to police failures in recording bias-motivated crimes and many trans people’s distrust of police, community groups unsurprisingly report much higher numbers. HIPS noted a 300% increase in violent incidents reported to them since last year. Most of these crimes targeted transgender women of color, and most were never reported to police. This must stop immediately.

Here are two ways YOU can get involved to stop violence against trans women:

*Demand Justice: Keep the Heat on MPD! DCTC and our allies will continue to put the pressure on Police Chief Cathy Lanier and to demand accountability and transparency. We want to see consequences for both Officer Furr and Officer Radon, who also assaulted a trans woman while off-duty last year. Regardless of Officer Furr’s motivation for harming members of our community, MPD must be held responsible for re-instating an officer who opened fire on innocent people while drunk and unauthorized to carry a weapon. Additionally, we demand that MPD:

  • Expand training for its entire force on the existing laws and protocols to protect trans people,
  • Take crimes against trans and queer people seriously,
  • Track and report crimes against trans people accurately, as they are required by law to do,
  • Notify DCTC and the Critical Response Team immediately with any developments in incidents that impact trans people,
  • Stop profiling trans women of color and abusing communities they assume to be sex workers, and
  • End the the disastrous Prostitution Free Zones and other anti-prostitution initiatives that force sex workers into dangerous situations where they are more likely to encounter violence.

Let the Police Department know that you are concerned about it’s treatment of transgender women. You can contact Chief Lanier at cathy.lanier@dc.gov. Also, Officer Furr’s trial and investigation are getting underway. Follow our blog or Facebook for updates!

*Work Toward Prevention: Fight Poverty, Unemployment and Job Discrimination! Trans communities face a rate of unemployment and levels of poverty that are double the already devastating rates in the United States. D.C. Mayor Gray recently promised to create a jobs program specifically targeting trans communities. Social programs will help decrease violence by solving the underlying housing instability and job precarity that put so many trans people, especially of color, in harm’s way.

Support our efforts to decrease barriers to employment and increase access to jobs for trans people in DC as we follow-up on Mayor Gray’s promised jobs program. Learn more and write him in support of these initiatives at eom@dc.gov.

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For background on the recent apparent rise in violence against transgender women in D.C. (including how it relates to police, racism, sex work, city budget cuts, gentrification and more) … see here!

Discussing the Causes of Violence Against Trans Women

Violence against trans women does not only exist as individual hatred or bias-motivated crime. It comes in many forms and for many reasons. Trans women are systematically placed in circumstances where we are more likely than others to experience multiple forms of violence.

In order to end violence against trans women, it is important to understand that more than just personal prejudices are at fault. Other kinds of oppression like racism, laws like the criminalization of sex work, economic forces like poverty and gentrification, and many other forces are also at play.

Wednesday, DCTC’s Sadie Vashti spoke about violence against the transgender community with the Latino Media Collective. The interview was broadcast on the radio, but you can also listen to it anytime at this link. (The interview begins about 1/4th into the clip.) In order to be more accessible, click below to read an abbreviated transcript broken into headings by topic.

Note: The views expressed in this interview belong only to Sadie. DCTC is a collective of many people with a variety of views. To learn more about our official organizational principles and stances, see here. Also, this interview was conducted before the most recent attack on a group of trans women by an off-duty MPD officer. Continue reading Discussing the Causes of Violence Against Trans Women

Fighting Biased Reporting After Tragedy

Like many of you, we’re still reeling from last week’s tragic killing of Lashai Mclean.  We were then especially appalled when we reviewed The Washington Blade’s coverage of the vigil held in Lashai’s memory, in which the reporter suggests — based on no evidence other than location — that Lashai was engaging in sex work at the time of her death.

Since our founding, we have worked to combat this kind of stereotyping.  Assumptions that trans women are sex workers fuel much of the systemic violence levelled against our communities. For example, the police often arrest trans women for solicitation based solely on this assumption. This is why the police’s “Prostitution Free Zones” effectively become Trans Profiling Zones. The Blade’s egregious speculation only affirms public perceptions of trans women of color as being sex workers, thus perpetuating the violence done under such assumptions.

Furthermore, we know from our own recent research that places where trans people engage in sex work are often the very same places where trans people build community. She may have been there to support friends or look out for someone else who was doing sex work, for example.  Thus no real conclusions can be drawn what Lashai was doing at the time of her death based solely on her location. Having a record or having done sex work in the past doesn’t mean anything about what she was doing that night. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of whether she was working when she died, her murder is equally unjust and equally a tragedy.

It is important to discuss the realities and violence that trans sex workers face. Many within the DCTC collective have ourselves lived this reality. We can, and do, educate about sex work and push for change on that level. But while reporting about a tragedy is not the time. There are times to discuss violence against trans sex workers without publicly and non-consensually infringing on the privacy of one individual. Without concrete evidence as to what she was doing that night, it is unfair to her to be airing her criminal record after her death or making implications that simply can’t yet be verified.

Today we expressed our disappointment in a letter to The Blade’s editor, Kevin Naff, which you can read below.  If you share our concerns, please make those known to him by e-mailing knaff@washblade.com.

Continue reading Fighting Biased Reporting After Tragedy

DCTC Grieves After Violence Claims Yet Another Transgender Woman’s Life; Vigil on Saturday

Today, we have sad news. Another trans sister has been taken from us. See here or here for news articles about the events, and read our press release below (also available as a PDF). Please share this statement widely, and come to the vigil this Saturday, July 23rd at 7pm on the 6100 block of Dix Street NE.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2011

Contact: Vanessa Crowley
202.681.3282 / dctc@dctranscoalition.org

DC Trans Coalition Grieves After Violence Claims Yet Another Transgender Woman’s Life
Group Calls for Solidarity in Response to Violence in Our Communities

Washington, DC – In the early hours of Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, Lashai Mclean, a 23 year old transgender woman, was murdered in Northeast DC.  The murder took place near the Wanda Alston House, a housing program for homeless LGBTQ youth operated by Transgender Health Empowerment (T.H.E.). Another trans woman was present during the attack and, thankfully, escaped. The Metropolitan Police Department has no leads or possible motives, and has not classified Lashai’s murder as a hate crime.

Lashai was a friend to many people in the community – including several DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) organizers who offer our sincerest condolences to those grieving this loss. We must stress once again the absolute necessity for the police and media to respect Lashai’s gender identity. The least we can do to honor her memory is to respect her chosen, lived identity.

While nothing can bring back those we have lost or undo the suffering we share, we can and should confront the daily terror and anxiety that trans and gender non-conforming people face. We can do this by building networks of mutual support and solidarity that sustain our efforts to feel safe and make change. Together, we must challenge institutional racism, poverty, transphobic attitudes, lack of social services, criminalization of sex work, and other policies that jeopardize our security.

We demand that MPD make finding Lashai’s killer a top priority, lest she become a repeat of the unsolved 2009 lethal stabbing of Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack in broad daylight, or the 2010 assault of Chloe Moore by an off-duty MPD officer who has not been charged in the case. “Lashai’s murder is yet another visceral reminder that transgender women are consistently placed in dangerous situations. These acts of violence are not isolated incidents.  The recent findings of the DC Trans Needs Assessment show trans communities in DC have overwhelming concern for our physical safety,” said Sadie Vashti, a DCTC organizer who knew Lashai. “Regardless of the individual motive in this case, our lives are institutionally marginalized and regarded as expendable. This makes trans women – especially women of color and those involved, or presumed to be involved, in the sex industry – far more susceptible to violence.”

We continue to hope for a future where there are no more senseless and violent deaths in our communities. Lashai’s memory will strengthen our resolve to continue surviving, supporting one another, and struggling for a better world.  T.H.E. will be hosting a vigil July 23rd at 7pm on the 6100 block of Dix Street NE, the site where Lashai was killed.  

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The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a volunteer, grassroots, community-based organization dedicated to fighting for human rights, dignity, and liberation for transsexual, transgender and gender-diverse people in the District of Columbia.  To learn more, please visit our website at www.dctranscoalition.org.  You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook

DCTC Study Shows DC Trans Communities Confront Widespread Lack of Safety

Today we’re excited to release summary findings from the first phase of our ongoing Needs Assessment Project, which found that transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – have serious concerns about their safety as they go about their everyday lives.  Other findings include severe underemployment, and major difficulties accessing adequate healthcare.

“This needs assessment is the first study of its kind in DC in over a decade, and is the first trans needs study in the nation to deploy community mapping as a research technique,” said Elijah Edelman, one of the needs assessment coordinators.  Over 100 trans residents in DC participated in a series of roundtable discussions where they mapped Washington, DC as a trans city, and suggested questions for the survey portion of the study.  “The maps create a qualitative picture of DC that a survey simply can’t provide, and the discussion around their creation will help us craft a survey that truly investigates the community’s concerns,” Edelman said.

The mapping exercise also identified places where trans people spend their time and access resources across the city.  The study found that while over half of participants mapped areas commonly referred to as sex work “strolls,” many participants mentioned these not as places where they seek income, but rather as places where they interact with their friends.  “Roundtable participants overwhelmingly described the strolls as places where – despite the high chances of facing harassment or arrest – trans people go to look out for their friends, distribute resources, and support one another,” said Sadie Ryanne Vashti, a DCTC organizer.  “We are concerned that some of the central places where trans people build communities are also some of the most heavily policed areas in the city, thanks to policies like the ‘Prostitution Free Zones,’” Vashti added.

The DC Trans Coalition has received a grant from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law to conduct the survey phase of the Needs Assessment Project.  DCTC is actively soliciting additional funding to support the research and economic empowerment components of this project.  Donations are fully tax-deductible thanks to the fiscal sponsorship of AGREAA – The Association for Gender Research, Education, Academia and Action.

  • To download the summary findings, click here.
  • To learn more about volunteering or donating to support this ongoing project, click here.
  • To reach the project principal investigators, Ruby Corado and Elijah Edelman, email dctc@dctranscoalition.org or call 202.681.DCTC (202.681.3282).

Cook County, Illinois Jail Adopts Improved Housing Policy

Following our hard-pressed victory for an improved policy at the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, the Cook County Jail (Chicago-area) has announced it is implementing a similar policy. Like DC, the jail will handle each housing decision individually by creating a committee that gives trans inmates the option of being housed where they feel safest, including in facilities congruent with their gender identity.

We echo the concerns of Chicagoans who are calling for greater input from local trans communities regarding the implementation of this policy, and the sensitivity training it mandates. However, this is a great step toward respecting the human rights of trans detainees.

Click here to read the full story on the Windy City Times.

“When trans people speak out, the criminal justice system can’t help but listen up.”

In internal documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, DCTC caught the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Corrections breaking their own rules. In an e-mail exchange about the improper housing of a trans woman, officials seemed more concerned about embarrassing media coverage than solving the rampant transphobia on their force. Amanda Hess at TBD has more on the story (reprinted below the cut): “D.C. police e-mails concerned with bad press, trans rights.

Continue reading “When trans people speak out, the criminal justice system can’t help but listen up.”