LGBT activists were startled to learn earlier this week that Prince George’s County police on Oct. 16 charged veteran transgender activist Gigi Thomas with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing to death a 47-year-old man inside her residence in Temple Hills, Md.
A police statement of probable cause filed in court says police were called to the address of 5712 Linda Lane in Temple Hills, where Thomas lived, about 7:50 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16. Upon arrival they found Devale Lamont Avery of Fort Washington suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body, the statement says. It says Avery was pronounced dead on the scene by emergency firefighters who also responded to the scene.
“Primarily, it appears an argument between the suspect and victim escalated into the fatal stabbing,” a separate police statement says. “Thomas is facing a charge of first-degree murder and is being held on a no bond status at the Department of Corrections,” the statement says.
The statement of probable cause says that after being transported to a police facility for questioning Thomas waived her Miranda rights and admitted “involvement in the murder of Devale Lamont Avery.”
Cyndee Clay, executive director of the D.C. group Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), said Thomas served as a client advocate for the group from 2002 to 2009, when she left to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Howard University. Clay said she attended Thomas’s graduation ceremony at Howard.
Thomas also served on the board of directors for the D.C.-based group Transgender Health Empowerment (THE).
In a 2004 report published by the International Foundation for Gender Educations, D.C. attorney and transgender advocate Lisa Mottet wrote that Thomas and fellow transgender advocate Earline Budd worked with her in carrying out trainings for employees of the city’s homeless shelters on how to best serve homeless transgender people.
Mottet wrote that Thomas in her work at HIPS “helps trans women on a daily basis to stay safe while they are engaging in sex work and helps connect them to services in an effort to help get them off the streets.”
In 2007, Thomas was among the honorees receiving the Capital Trans Pride committee’s Engendered Spirit Award for her contributions to the trans community.
Budd told the Blade she was shocked to learn that Thomas had been arrested on a murder charge, saying Thomas worked most recently as a mental health case manager at a psychiatric facility on Bladensburg Road, N.E.
“She is one of the highly recognized transgender women of D.C,” Budd said.
“We’re all kind of in shock and we’re very concerned,” Clay told the Blade. “This is not something that we would expect at all. Here at HIPS we’re just trying to do whatever we can to support her. She was well loved here.”
Added Clay, “She’s done so much for the community. She cared so greatly for so many people when she was a client advocate here at HIPS and she continued to be a respected colleague.”