New York City Anti-Violence Project Calls for Puerto Rican Officials, McDonald’s Respond to Hate Violence Against LGBTQ People in Puerto Rico

NEW YORK, NY — The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) joins Make The Road New York, community leaders, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of violence, and New Yorkers in gathering Monday, March 2nd at 6 PM in Jackson Heights, Queens, to mourn the death of Alexa, a transgender woman of color who was killed near San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the early morning of February 24th.   

According to reports, Alexa was homeless, seeking safety at McDonald’s restaurant, and was harassed for using the women’s restroom. She was later killed after being forced to leave the restaurant. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a coalition of over 50 local member programs working to create systemic and social change for LGBTQ communities, consistently finds that trans women of color face disproportionate rates of persistent and severe — too often fatal — violence, and research consistently shows LGBTQ people face higher rates of poverty  and homelessness , as well as widespread employment discrimination, with the highest rates faced by trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people of color. Whether the result of racist and transphobic hate violence, violence from a partner or date, or from neglect and abuse in ICE detention, these deaths highlight an epidemic of violence against trans women of color.  

“The resurgence of anti-LGBTQ violence, and more specifically anti-trans violence, in Puerto Rico is directly related to the climate of intolerance that has been instigated by political and religious fundamentalist leaders. This needs to stop and it has to stop now. This government has to stop any attempt to take away rights like the changes in the Civil Code that are being considered by the Legislature that would roll back the right of trans people to change the gender marker of their birth certificate. Enough is enough,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, human rights activist and spokesperson for Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.

Actress Selenis Leyva and her sister Marizol Levya called for accountability from Puerto Rican officials and police department: “We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the senseless murder of Alexa. Our hearts are broken at this vicious act of hatred. We urge the police department of Puerto Rico to conduct a full and thorough investigation. Alexa deserves justice.”

This is a crucible moment when we must act, as LGBTQ people and our allies, to create safety for one another by building connections across communities. We need better response to these incidents, but even more urgently, we need to prevent this violence and change the culture that allows it to flourish. AVP stands in solidarity with those in Puerto Rico, and demands the responsible government officials ensure a thorough investigation of Alexa’s death and that the officials work with Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ communities to build trust and safety for all, including ensuring full compliance with a guidance from Puerto Rico Department of Labor & Human Resources for transgender folks. 

“It’s important that Mcdonald’s as a corporation takes immediate action to make sure that LGBTQ people are safe in their restaurants globally,” Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of The New York City Anti Violence Project said. “Homeless people, including those who are LGBTQ, often seek refuge and need access to public restrooms. Trans and gender nonconforming people in particular, regardless of housing status, are subjected to violence when attempting to use public restrooms. Bathroom access is an anti-violence issue.” 

AVP calls for McDonalds to: 

  1. Take immediate responsibility for whatever part the staff at the McDonalds played in either reporting to the police, making Alexa feel unwelcome, and/or targeting her for using the restroom corresponding with her gender;
  2. Ensure that all patrons and staff follow the guidance from Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor & Human Resources that protects bathroom access; 
  3. Train all McDonalds staff on how to create safe spaces for those who are TGNC; and
  4. Engage in conversations with the Puerto Rican LGBTQ community about additional ways McDonald’s can support the community in addressing and preventing violence.

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Communications Director, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184

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The New York City Anti-Violence Project empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.

 

 

NCAVP mourns the death of 18-year-old transgender woman Nikki Kuhnhausen in Clark County, Washington.

NCAVP mourns the death of 18-year-old transgender woman Nikki Kuhnhausen in Clark County, Washington. According to media reports, Nikki Kuhnhausen has been missing since June after meeting with a man she met off of snapchat. A search coordinated by the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVA) led to her body being found earlier this week. 

Nikki Kuhnhausen’s parents, Lisa and Vincent Woods, worked diligently to find their missing daughter, passing out flyers at pride parades and throughout the community. “Nikki had my heart from the moment she was born,” Lisa Woods told media. “She’s been my special child and she keeps me knowing I am worth something.” 

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nikki Kuhnhausen. Donations can be made in Nikki’s name to NWCAVE and will be used for funeral costs. 

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

 

LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

December 3, 2019

LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

New York – Today, leading LGBTQ, women, and survivor advocacy organizations, including Girls for Gender Equity, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, New Hour for Women & Children Long Island, NYC Anti-Violence Project, Violence Intervention Program, Inc., Women’s Prison Association, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Hudson Valley,  released the following statement about the bail reform measures which will go into effect in January, 2020:

“We are survivors fighting for a better, safer and more just New York – and we know that this requires transforming our discriminatory pretrial system.

As advocates serving thousands of  survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence a year, including Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and gender non-binary New Yorkers, we fought for transformative bail reform in New York State, calling for the elimination of money bail and the implementation of a pretrial system that substantially limits pretrial incarceration and ensures due process and individualized justice. With support from the vast majority of residents across the state, bail reform legislation enacted last session and will go into effect on January 1st.

Rather than celebrate the work of New Yorkers to end the criminalization of poverty and protect the presumption of innocence, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) has tried to stymie the implementation of the new reforms by stoking fear about “public safety.”

However, as advocates and people who have been impacted by intimate partner violence, we know that Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ, and women survivors are often themselves criminalized and that pretrial incarceration can undermine the safety of survivors. Mandatory arrest laws and cursory primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to –  the person engaging in a pattern of abusive partner behavior. The Family Violence Program of the Urban Justice Center in New York City found that survivors of IPV had been arrested in 27% of cases received through their hotline in a two-year period. 85% of survivors arrested had a prior documented history of being subjected to domestic violence, and 85% were injured during the incident that led to their arrest.

As anti-violence organizations, we know that pretrial jailing can be deadly. According to the Bureau of Justice, 471 New Yorkers died in county jails between 2000 and 2014.[1] The State Commission on Correction has found that “gross incompetence” cost the lives of people in jails from Nassau to Onondaga, including India Cummings in Erie County and Layleen Polanco in New York City.

Pretrial incarceration also harms children and families. The vast majority – 80% – of incarcerated and detained women are  mothers and primary caregivers.[2] Even a few days of pretrial detention can result in the loss of employment and housing and the initiation of child neglect cases with devastating long-lasting impacts on the financial stability, health and well-being of families.

We are acutely aware that too often, survivors’ experiences are exploited when prosecutors work to pass laws to give themselves broad discretion and leverage in court in order to increase convictions. Every day, we hear from survivors that what they really need is economic stability, housing, health care, and trauma-informed services.

If District Attorneys are interested in supporting survivors, they need to listen to us and fight for emergency shelter and long-term housing, economic justice, and access to robust healthcare.

This is what survivors need. This is what New York State needs.”

[1] https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mlj0014st.pdf

[2] https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/05/13/mothers-day-2018/

NCAVP mourns the death of 22-year-old Tracy Single, a Black transgender woman in Houston, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of 22-year-old Tracy Single, a Black transgender woman in Houston, TX whose life was tragically taken on July 30, 2019. Reports of Tracy’s death are making media two weeks following her death thanks to the work of Houston-based journalist and organizer Monica Roberts of TransGriot. In initial reports of the homicide, Tracy was not identified as trans.

The City of Houston is honoring Tracy’s life by displaying the trans pride flag colors on City Hall. If you have any information on her death, local organizers are encouraging folks to call Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

A Special NCAVP Report on Anti-LGBTQ Violence During Pride

This year, Pride celebrations around the country marked June as the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and New York City hosted the international community for a World Pride celebration. While our communities experienced an increase in visibility, Pride season was also marked by repeated reports of violence in the LGBTQ community. 

Today, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is releasing a special report, Pride and Pain: A Snapshot of Anti-LGBTQ Hate and Violence During Pride Season 2019. This report outlines the incidents and trends of violence documented nationally in the two-month period from May 15 to July 15, 2019

Beverly Tillery, New York City Anti-Violence Project’s (AVP) Executive Director said:

“It’s important to remember that violence against the LGBTQ communities continues and in some cases is intensifying. For many of us Pride is a time for celebration, a time to honor our roots in the Stonewall Rebellion, and a reminder of the important legislative and cultural victories that are worth celebrating. This Pride season, we were reminded over and over again of the violence that plagues our community, particularly transgender members of the  community. This snapshot provides another window into the various forms of violence our community faces, and shows how the visibility of Pride season can sometimes lead to greater targeting and attacks.”

Report Summary: 

  • 14 homicides from May 15 – July 15, 2019 including 7 homicides of Black trans women. This was an average of nearly 2 (1.75) homicides each week and more than three times the hate violence homicides recorded between January 1 and May 14, 2019
  • 2 fatalities of trans women of color while in detention, Johana Medina and Layleen Polanco
  • 6 dating, hook-up, and intimate partner violence related incidents
  • 22 anti-LGBTQ protests at pride activities, drag queen story hours, and LGBTQ establishments

 

Ericka Dixon, NCAVP National Capacity Building Coordinator said: “While we recognize that there is no way to know and account for all LGBTQ people who have been targeted and harmed, we can raise and amplify the stories we do know. NCAVP tracks these incidents of violence nationally as a way to better understand how violence impacts LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. This informs our work in preventing and responding to incidents of violence against our community, and in educating LGBTQ people and our allies on ways to create systemic and social change.”

The full snapshot can be found here: avp.org For Media Inquiries contact Eliel Cruz at ecruz@avp.org

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

STATEMENT FROM THE ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT ON PROPOSED HHS ANTI-TRANS RULE

In response to a newly anti-trans rule by the Department of Health and Human Services to limit the definition of sex discrimination, The New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed HHS rule attempting to limit the definition of sex discrimination would deny access to basic and potentially life-saving heath care to transgender, gender nonconforming (TGNC) and non-binary people and all those seeking reproductive care. This is yet another attempt by this administration to enshrine discrimination into our laws and will ultimately put millions of people in danger. Nondiscrimination protections are crucial in ensuring all people have equal access to necessary health care.

Over the past several years, our country has witnessed severe and escalating violence against TGNC and non-binary people. In the past week alone, three transgender women of color lost their lives to homicide. Gutting anti-discrimination protections only serves to put transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary people at further risk for violence.

This latest attack is a clear opportunity for LGBTQ and women’s organizations to join together to demand that our government respect and protect our collective humanity and self-determination.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

Statement from the Anti-Violence Project on Proposed HUD Anti-Trans Rule

In response to the newly proposed rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that would allow for transgender people to be turned away from supportive housing, the New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed rule from HUD is cruel.  It undermines the 2016 Equal Access rules, strips protections for vulnerable trans and gender non-conforming people, and could block access to supportive housing for transgender people. For this rule to be proposed just days after three Black trans women have been murdered is especially outrageous. Access to resources such as employment, healthcare, and housing curb violence against trans people who are disproportionately homeless, poor, and impacted by hate violence. These continued attacks on the trans community from this inept administration perpetuate the climate of violence in which trans people are dying. To turn trans people away from shelters is to knowingly put already vulnerable lives at risk.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

NCAVP mourns the death of Michelle Simone, a 40-year-old black trans woman in Philadelphia

NCAVP mourns the death of Michelle Simone, also known as Michelle Washington and as Tameka, a 40-year-old black trans woman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to media reports, Michelle died on May 19th, as a result of several gunshot wounds. Michelle was the fifth transgender person to die through homicide so far in 2019, and was one of three Black trans women to die through homicide in a five-day period.

Philadelphia-based activist Deja Lynn Alvarez shared, “Anytime I get those phone calls and text messages, it’s extremely hard, but even more so when you realize it’s someone you have known and been friends with for 20 years.  Your memory will live and light will shine on through us.”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

 

NCAVP mourns the death of Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old black trans woman in Dallas, Texas

NCAVP mourns the death of Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old black trans woman in Dallas, Texas. According to media reports, Muhlaysia died on May 18th, as a result of a gunshot wound, just one month after a that showed her being brutally beaten went viral, in what authorities are calling a separate incident, although according to reports, the whereabouts of the person who attacked Muhlaysia, Edward Thomas, are currently unknown. Muhlaysia was one of three Black trans women to die through homicide in a five-day period.

Dallas’ Abounding Prosperity Group rallied with Booker in a public display against hate crimes against black trans women after her attack.  The group issued a statement after Muhlaysia’s death, stating she “was a courageous young woman who was seeking justice for the brutal attack launched against her on April 12, 2019. To learn today that her young life was taken by homicidal violence early Saturday morning is heartbreaking, yet it inspires us to further demand justice on behalf of our fallen sister. This incidence of African American Transwomen being murdered has become too frequent and it must be stopped.”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Claire Legato, a 21-year-old Black trans woman in Cleveland, Ohio

NCAVP mourns the death of Claire Legato, a 21-year-old Black trans woman in Cleveland, Ohio. According to media reports, Claire died on May 15th, exactly one month after being shot, after an argument she and her mother were reported to have had with John Booth, 61.

Aaron Eckhardt, Director of BRAVO, one of NCAVP’s members, says, “Our hearts, minds, and condolences are with Claire’s chosen family, friends, and community in this time of tragedy. We at BRAVO are saddened and remain outraged as our communities continue to be repeatedly targeted, and we remain steadfast in providing services to the LGBTQI communities of Ohio. We must continue to come together as a broad community of support to say hate has no home in Ohio until hate has no home anywhere.”

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.