August 23, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Transgender woman killed in NYC

New York City, gay news, Washington Blade

A transgender woman’s death has sparked outrage across New York City. (Photo by Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons)

A transgender New York City woman’s death has sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates and elected officials.

The website DNA on Thursday reported doctors took Islan Nettles, 21, of Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood off life support after they declared her brain dead.

The New York Police Department told DNA that Nettles was with several other trans women around 11 p.m. on August 17 when they encountered a group of men near the intersection of West 148th Street and Eighth Avenue in Harlem. The NYPD said a man used anti-gay slurs against Nettles as he beat her.

The website said Nettles had been on life support since the attack the NYPD continues to investigate as a hate crime.

“We are outraged by reports of a possible hate crime that resulted in the tragic death of a transgender woman in Harlem,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a joint statement she issued with New York City Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Inez Dickens who represent Harlem.

Nettles’ death comes slightly more than three months after Elliott Morales allegedly shot Mark Carson, a gay Brooklyn man, to death in Greenwich Village during what the NYPD has classified as a hate crime.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects in June noted 25 people were murdered in 2012, which is the fourth highest yearly total it has recorded since it began to issue annual reports in 1996. NCAVP said 73.1 percent of the aforementioned homicide victims were people of color and 53.8 percent of them were trans women.

Quinn, a former executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project who seeks to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion in November, told the Washington Blade earlier this month she would set a goal of the five boroughs “becoming a hate crime-free city” through working with the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, expanding the city’s anti-bullying curriculum and partnering with community and faith organizations if elected.

“That’s the work we have to keep doing until we get to the place where we get to zero as the statistics of hate crimes against any community,” Quinn said.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project said a vigil for Nettles will take place on Monday.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

2 Comments
  • It’s so sad that Islan Nettles triggered such rage in this violent bigot that he beat her to death! NO ARREST either. If this were some hetero white person the perpetrator would be in jail already. I’m sure the closed minds in Harlem aren’t in hurry to report this violent thug to the police since they probably see him as their hero now. So sad that an entire minority can be so full of hate towards their own people.

  • As I sat her this morning reading about this horirble tragedy of yet another transgender women and no arrest, it brings back many memories of so many girls killed here in DC over many years. I am even more sadden because this is the 50th year recognizing the March on Washington, but even today equality and justice is still not for all people like those of us that are transgender. Please know that my prayers are with the family and LBGT community of New York City.

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