Lambda Legal Commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance
Today, Nov. 20, is the 15th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance — a day when we remember and honor those we have lost to anti-transgender hatred and violence, and when we rededicate ourselves to continuing the fight for full equality for all transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
Today, among those whom we honor is Islan Nettles, the 21-year-old Harlem transgender woman who was beaten to death last August while she was simply walking down the street. We commemorate the lives of the hundreds of transgender people we’ve lost this year — many of whom, like Islan, were young women of color.
Transgender people are often the most visible and therefore most marginalized part of our LGBT community. They often bear the brunt of the harassment, discrimination, and physical violence aimed at our community as a whole. Fighting for survival at the intersections of race, class and gender, among other identities, these individuals don’t live in a world that protects them. The devastating number of transgender murders worldwide is unacceptable.
Lambda Legal continues to advocate for the rights of transgender people in every aspect of daily life, working to bring us all closer to the day when the epidemic of violence against members of our community will end. Last month, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief with New York State’s highest court, urging it to reinstate the 2009 conviction of Dwight DeLee, who was found guilty of homicide as a hate crime for the 2008 shooting death in Syracuse of Lateisha Green, a transgender woman.
In the 2009 trial, the jury quickly and clearly convicted DeLee of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. The jury also found DeLee not guilty on a second count, which was described to the jury as manslaughter "but not as a hate crime." On appeal, DeLee's attorneys argued that the two verdicts were inconsistent and that the conviction should be overturned. The mid-level appeals court, in a 4-1 decision last July, overturned the conviction. But DeLee was released from prison immediately, and remains free today while the prosecutor’s appeal seeking to reinstate that conviction is pending before New York’s highest court.
Ending the violence against our transgender sisters and brothers demands action across our entire community — LGBT and non-LGBT — to undo the years of miseducation that underlie bias-motivated violence. As we await a decision concerning Lateisha Green’s killer on this Transgender Day of Remembrance, we celebrate and honor her life, and the lives of so many others, as we recommit ourselves to a vision of justice that will transform our communities so that transgender people can safely walk down the street and live their lives without fear. And we must also recommit ourselves to a ensuring that, until that day arrives, our criminal justice system holds the people responsible for anti-trans violence and hatred accountable for their crimes.
Read today's press release.