September 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Murder trial for D.C. trans activist set for Sept. 13
Gigi Thomas, gay news, Washington Blade

Gigi Thomas faces a first-degree murder charge. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

A contingent of transgender activists from the D.C. area was expected to appear in Prince George’s County Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro on Sept. 13 for the opening day of the murder trial of veteran D.C. transgender activist Gigi Thomas.

Friends and associates of Thomas say they believe she has been unfairly charged with first-degree murder in connection with the October 2015 stabbing death of Devale Lamont Avery, 47. Police found Avery suffering from fatal stab wounds inside Thomas’s residence in Temple Hills, Md., according to a police arrest affidavit.

One of Thomas’s friends, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said supporters believe Thomas stabbed Avery, an estranged friend of hers, in self-defense after he attempted to rob and assault her.

“The basic outline is the backdrop of black transgender women being killed in large numbers across the country because of their gender identity,” the friend said. “Gigi knew about that as an activist and she fought back.”

The police arrest affidavit says police responded to the scene after being called and found Avery, a Fort Washington resident, suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body. It says Avery was pronounced dead on the scene.

It also says Thomas waived her Miranda rights and admitted “involvement in the murder of Devale Lamont Avery.”

Thomas’s attorney, David Simpson, didn’t respond to calls from the Blade seeking comment on Thomas’s behalf.

Cyndee Clay, executive director of the D.C. sex workers rights and social services group HIPS, said Thomas served as a client advocate for the group from 2002 to 2009, when she left the group to begin studies for a master’s degree in social work at Howard University. Clay said she attended Thomas’s graduation.

“We’re all kind of in shock and we’re very concerned,” said Clay at the time of Thomas’s arrest. “This is not something we would expect at all.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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