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Trans activists hold protest outside police, U.S. Attorney offices

Protesters call for immediate steps to curtail anti-trans violence and ‘police bias’

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Transgender
Transgender Day of Action

Transgender Day of Action protests. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

About 35 transgender activists and their supporters walked in picket lines on Thursday outside the headquarters of the D.C. Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to draw attention to what they say is an unacceptably high rate of violence against transgender people in the city.

Participants in the two protests, which organizers called a Transgender Day of Action, presented a list of demands to District Police Chief Cathy Lanier and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Mechan calling for immediate steps to address the problem.

“This past summer we were able to report 20 incidents where [transgender] people were beaten, stabbed, shot — and this is something that really concerns us,” said Ruby Corado of the D.C. Trans Coalition, who spoke to the gathering through a bull horn.

“The call that we want to make is that people remember that this is happening in your own back yard,” she said. “There’s no way that people in this city can ignore that this is happening to their own brothers and sisters, and we need to take action.”

Corado and others who spoke at the protests have said existing city laws and police department policies that prohibit discrimination against transgender people are among the strongest in the in the nation. But the activists say the city in general and police in particular haven’t adequately implemented those laws and policies.

“This is coming after the terrible outbreak of anti-trans violence in this city this past summer,” said Dana Beyer, executive director of the transgender advocacy group Gender Rights Maryland.

Transgender Day of Action

Day of Action supporters marching. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Beyer, who participated in the D.C. protest on Thursday, said some of the recent violent attacks against transgender women, including the July shooting murder of trans woman Lashay Mclean, 23, have taken place in a section of Northeast D.C. next to the D.C.-Prince George’s County, Md., border. She said the developments have had an impact on the trans community in Maryland.

“The leadership in this city is committed to our community but for some reason they simply have not been able to implement that commitment,” Beyer said. “And we’re just here to remind them that they need to take that next step.”

Activists have expressed concern in recent months that the U.S. Attorney’s office, which serves as the city’s prosecutor in criminal cases, has reduced the charges against men arrested for violent crimes, including murders, against transgender people in an effort to persuade the men to plead guilty and avoid the need for a trial.

In meetings with LGBT activists, representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s office have said they only lower charges in cases where they believe the available evidence and circumstances surrounding the cases would prevent the office from obtaining a conviction from a jury if the case goes to trial.

LGBT advocacy groups, including the D.C. Trans Coalition and Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) dispute that explanation. They argue that the U.S. Attorney’s office has been too quick to reduce charges against violence criminals who target the LGBT community, and the office should bring more cases to trial.

Xion Lopez

Xion Lopez. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Xion Lopez, 20, a transgender woman, told the gathering outside the U.S. Attorney’s office on 4th Street, N.W., less than two blocks from police headquarters, she was speaking on behalf of transgender crime victims who lost their lives to violence.

“I stand here today with the hope and knowing that the crime will stop, something will be done we’ll be able to move forward,” she said.

Janelle Mungo, an official with the D.C. chapter of the national direct action group Get Equal and an organizer of Thursday’s protest, said details of the demands and background on the issues surrounding anti-trans violence in the city can be viewed at www.TLGBpolicewatch.tumblr.com.

In statement responding to the protest, Lanier said, “MPD is committed to protecting and working with all members of our communities. I have demonstrated my personal commitment to this community from the beginning of my tenure, when I issued the department’s first directive on handling interactions with transgender individuals, to now, when I have been meeting with the GLBT community at least monthly since this summer.”

Lanier said she has just organized a series of town hall meetings to allow members of the police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to meet LGBT community members. She said she was disappointed that no one from the LGBT community showed up at one of those meetings on Wednesday night of this week.

Jason Terry, a member of the D.C. Trans Coalition who participated in the protest, called Lanier’s statement “insulting,” saying police failed to adequately publicize the police meetings with GLLU members. He said many transgender community members also are reluctant to attend an event at a police station, where the GLLU meetings are being held, following two recent incidents in which a police officer has assaulted transgender people. In one of the incidents, an off duty police officer was arrested for firing his gun into a car in which three trans women were sitting.

“MPD’s failure to attract people to their events is their failure, not the community’s,” Terry said.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. laurelboy2

    November 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    What gives? The police hold a meeting to discuss trans issues and grievances and no one shows up?? Lame excuses by Jason Terry. God helps those who help themselves, and the trans community is not helping themselves.

  2. brian

    November 19, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Kudos to DC Trans Coalition and other trans activists, as well as the DCchapter of GetEQUAL for spotlighting MPD’s and USAO’s ongoing failures relating to DC LGBT-related hate crimes.

    CM Mendelson and the COUNCIL could better fight anti-LGBT hate crimes by adding more tools to MPD’s/ USAO’s tool box. DC’s criminal *THREATS* and *STALKING* are not even considered hate crimes. Yet, everyone knows these crimes are frequently used by hate crimes perpetrators.

    COUNCIL needs to address DC’s increasingly antiquated hate crimes law by adding DC’s misdemeanor and felony THREATS laws as well as DC’s STALKING law to the ‘designated acts’ sections of DC’s hate crimes law (Bias Related Crimes Act).

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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SMYAL Director Shakir to step down Dec. 31

Board to launch Executive Search beginning in January

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SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir addresses the crowd at the 2021 Fall Brunch. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sultan Shakir, who has served as executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ youth advocacy organization SMYAL since August 2014, announced on Friday that he will be stepping down from his position effective Dec. 31.

In a Dec. 3 announcement, SMYAL said details of Shakir’s future career plans would be announced in the coming weeks.

“While we are sad to see Sultan leave, we wish him nothing but the same success in his new endeavor as he had at SMYAL,” said Rob Cogorno, SMYAL’s board chair. “His leadership and vision enabled SMYAL to expand greatly needed services to LGBTQ youth in the DC metro area throughout his tenure,” Cogorno said.

“I am immensely proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together in my time at SMYAL,” Shakir said in a statement released by SMYAL. “SMYAL has been an integral and vital resource in the DMV community for over 37 years, and while we have come a long way in combating homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexual health stigma, homelessness, violence against the LGBTQ community, and oppression, we have a long way to go,” he said.

“This work has never been about one person,” said Shakir. “SMYAL was founded by our community and we’re still around because of our community,” he said. “I leave knowing that the commitment and passion of the SMYAL Board, staff, volunteers, and youth leaders have created a solid foundation from which our work will continue to grow until LGBTQ youth no longer need us.”

The SMYAL statement says that under Shakir’s tenure, SMYAL, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, expanded its programs and services for LGBTQ youth. Among other things, in 2017 SMYAL opened its first of several housing facilities for homeless LGBTQ youth that include culturally competent case management, education and employment assistance.

“The Youth Housing Program now comprises five programmatic models that serve a combined 61 youth residents,” the statement says.

It points out that also under Shakir’s leadership, SMYAL expanded the age range of the youth its programs serve under a new Little SMYALs program, which welcomes LGBTQ youth ages 6-12. And earlier in 2021 under Shakir’s guidance, SMYAL began a new Clinical Services Department “which provides affirming and accessible mental health counseling,” the statement says.

“The SMYAL Board of Directors will officially launch an Executive Search beginning in January 2022 and expects to have named a new Executive Director by summer 2022,” the statement says. It says the board will soon name an interim executive director to work with SMYAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Jorge Membreno, and the organization’s leadership team to oversee the day-to-day activities until a new executive director is named.

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Rainbow History Project to honor LGBTQ ‘Pioneers’

Virtual celebration to take place on Dec. 9

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David Mariner, gay news, Washington Blade
David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C.’s Rainbow History Project says it will honor and recognize 12 individuals and one organization by designating them as Community Pioneers “for their diverse contributions to the Washington-area LGBTQ community” at a Dec. 9 virtual celebration.

“Rainbow History Project is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the LGBT history of metropolitan Washington, D.C.,” the group says in a statement announcing the event. “The Pioneers awards recognize diverse community leaders for their roles as organizational founders, innovators, advocates and volunteers,” the statement says.

“The Pioneers celebration will be held virtually and is designed with special features that reproduce the feeling of attending in-person, such as live streaming and video chatting with other attendees and Pioneers before and after the core awards programing,” according to the statement.

“Celebrating our Community Pioneers has been a cherished tradition since Rainbow History Project’s founding 21 years ago,” said Rob Berger, the organization’s chairperson. “It’s always an inspiring event, and we are happy that our virtual platform will still allow participants to meet and talk with the Pioneers,” Berger said in the statement.

The virtual event is free and open to the public, the statement says. Organizers released this link for those interested in attending, saying a short registration process may require registering in advance. 

Remo Conference

Following is the list of Community Pioneers scheduled to be honored at the Dec. 9 event as released by Rainbow History Project along with the project’s description of their backgrounds.

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a local group that since its founding has addressed equal rights issues for LGBTQ Virginians from a state and local perspective.

– Eboné F. Bell, founder and editor-in-chief of Tagg Magazine and Tagg Communication LLC.

Bart Forbes, founding member of “Gay Fairfax,” a pioneering television newsmagazine program in Northern Virginia.

– Ellen Kahan, youth and family advocate, president of Rainbow Families, former director of the Lesbian Services Program at Whitman-Walker Health, and currently senior director of programs and partnerships at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

– Theodore Kirkland (deceased), a co-founder of D.C. Black Pride in 1991, member of the Gay Liberation Front and Skyline Faggots, active community health volunteer and advocate.

– Paul Marengo, community leader through LGBTQ organizations including Reel Affirmations, Cherry Fund, and Pride celebrations for youth, Latino, Black and Transgender communities.

– David Mariner, executive director of CAMP Rehoboth, and former executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community.

– Mark Meinke founder longtime chair, Rainbow History Project, and co-founder of Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization for the recognition and preservation of sites, history and heritage associated with sexual and gender minorities.

– Michael “Micci” Sainte Andress, artist, health educator and advocate and an early leader in bringing African Americans into HIV/AIDS clinical trials.

– Boden Sandstrom, founder and owner of Woman Sound (later City Sound), the first all-woman sound company, which makes LGBTQ rights rallies and the women’s music scene possible.

Casse Culver (deceased), nationally acclaimed D.C. lesbian feminist singer-songwriter, and partner of Boden Sandstrom, whose followers said her love songs and feminist lyrics moved audiences from foot stomping to silent reflection.  

Alan Sharpe, playwright, director and co-founder of the African American Collective Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1976, which now focuses on LGBTQ life and culture in the Black community.

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