December 23, 2019 at 7:58 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
17th Street residents, visitors mourn death of homeless transgender woman
Alice Carter (Photo courtesy of Dito Sevilla/Facebook)

A D.C. police report and people who knew homeless transgender woman Alice Carter, 35, said concerned citizens observed her unconscious on the 1600 block of 17th Street, N.W., about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s restaurant where she hung out and often slept for at least 12 years.

The police report says the concerned citizens flagged down D.C. police officers who were later identified as members of the police LGBT Liaison Unit walking in the area conducting routine business visits.

According to the police report, the officers performed CPR on Carter while waiting for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services workers to arrive. The EMS workers, after arriving a short time later, took over the CPR activity and were able to resuscitate Carter, who was not breathing when the officers first saw her.

She was taken to Howard University Hospital in critical condition, one of the officers said later. But to the dismay of the officers, EMS workers and many residents and visitors to the 17th Street neighborhood, Carter died the next day at the hospital.

Known for years as Baby Alice, Carter’s friendly and cheerful disposition despite her struggle with homelessness and substance abuse made her a popular figure on 17th Street among those who lived there and those who visited or worked at the restaurants and bars, including two gay bars and the gay-friendly Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, that line the bustling street.

“Last night the gay heavens welcomed another angel,” said gay bartender Dito Sevilla who lives and works on 17th Street, in a posting on Facebook. “17th Street’s longtime resident singing, dancing, rapping, demi-monde, known for years as ‘baby’ Alice didn’t make it,” Sevilla wrote.

“A more harmless and innocent soul has never shared our streets; she’ll be missed terribly,” Sevilla wrote in his post. “Alice loved wearing pink, composing poetry and of course McDonald’s strawberry milkshakes.”

Sevilla said he and many others who live and work in the neighborhood helped Carter by giving her money. Those who knew her said she often held out a cup asking for help.

David Perruzza, former general manager of the 17th Street gay bar JR’s and current owner of the 18th Street gay bars Pitchers and League of Her Own in Adams Morgan, said Alice Carter also hung out on 18th Street outside the McDonald’s in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

“A lot of you knew her as the transgender homeless girl on 17th and 18th streets,” Perruzza said in his own Facebook post. “Not many know that she was kicked out of her house cause she was transgender,” he said. “Be kind to people. Everyone has a story. People just don’t become homeless,” Perruzza wrote. “Consider donating to an LGBTQ+ homeless shelter in her memory.”  

Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of the D.C. LGBT community services center Casa Ruby, said Carter was an occasional client of Casa Ruby. Corado said Carter had an addiction problem and mental health issues that Corado and others tried to persuade her to take steps to address.

“She was a loving, beautiful soul,” said Corado. “I don’t know too much about her. All I know is when we did outreach I would bring her in and she would take showers, eat, she got clothes, and then eventually she would go back out,” Corado said.

D.C. police didn’t disclose the cause of Carter’s death, but the police report says she was found “not breathing and unconscious and possibly under the influence of an unknown substance.”

The Washington Post reported that Carter is one of at least 117 homeless people who have died in D.C. so far this year.

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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