NCAVP mourns the death of Isaac Herrera in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

NCAVP mourns the death of Isaac Herrera, who was fatally stabbed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on January 9, 2018. According to media reports, Herrera, 24, was fatally stabbed during a sexual encounter with 18-year-old Brandon Newell, who confessed to the murder and who has been arrested though not yet formally charged.

We mourn the loss of Isaac Herrera, and send his friends and family love and care in the wake of his death. Isaac was a theater student at Oklahoma City Community College, a member of the school’s LGBT community, and was remembered as a budding actor who was “a friend to all that knew him.”

In 2017, NCAVP reported an increase in hook-up related homicides, especially against bisexual and gay cisgender men. We must address the effect of hook-up violence on our LGBTQ communities, especially as our networks move online and our community members continue to meet and hook up in a variety of ways. We must not only spread awareness about this form of violence, but promote affirming messages around sex, sexuality and safety, and create safe spaces for our communities.

In memory of Isaac Herrera.

A fund has been set up to help Isaac’s mother, Veronica Myers, with burial expenses. Donate here.

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. Read the full list here.

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 Blaze Bernstein in Orange County, California

NCAVP mourns the loss of Blaze Bernstein, who was stabbed to death in Orange County, California, in early January, 2018. According to media reports, 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein disappeared on January 2, 2018, after being picked up in a car by school classmate Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20. Bernstein’s body was discovered on January 9 and Woodward was arrested on January 12 after police identified Bernstein’s blood on a possession in Woodward’s car. Woodward is reported to have thought Bernstein was making sexual advances toward him, and police are investigating the killing as an “act of rage.”

We mourn the loss of Blaze Bernstein and send love and care to his friends, family, and loved ones. Blaze was remembered by hundreds at a vigil in Irvine on January 15, 2018. “Those who spoke described Bernstein’s gift as a writer, his love of food and cooking, his humor and his never-ending ability to inspire others by simply helping them find the value within themselves,” wrote the Daily Breeze.

All too often, homophobia can lead to deadly violence. We condemn this act of hatred, and we discourage framing Bernstein’s murder as stemming from an “act of rage.” There is no such thing as gay panic or trans panic, and in fact, the “gay panic defense” is banned in two states, California and Illinois, and the American Bar Association suggests others follow suit. Knowledge of someone’s sexual or gender identity never justifies deadly violence. Rather, we must work to end homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia at all levels, to ensure that this deadly violence does not continue.

In memory of Blaze Bernstein.

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. Read the full list here.

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 intimate partner violence homicide of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien in North Adams, Massachusetts

NCAVP mourns the death of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, a white transgender woman who was killed by her husband on January 5, 2018 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She is the first transgender victim of deadly violence NCAVP has received a report of this year. According to media reports, Christa, who was 42, died of stabbing and blunt force trauma after a domestic dispute with 47-year-old Mark Steele-Knudslien, who has been charged with her murder.

We mourn the loss of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien and send love and care to her friends and loved ones. Christa was beloved by and deeply involved with the local and national trans community and founded the Miss Trans America pageant and the Miss Trans New England pageant. Her death has spurred many activists to promote awareness of how intimate partner violence uniquely affects the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

In a press release with Elizabeth Freeman Center, Safe Passage, and NELCWIT, Sabrina Santiago, Co-Executive Director of The Network/La Red said: “The LGBQ/T communities are no stranger to mourning the violent loss of community members. We talk about homicide, especially towards trans women, as hate crimes rooted in homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. However, we don’t talk about the LGBQ/T homicides that occur in relation to domestic violence. We need to start talking about the violence occurring within our communities.”

Though not often talked about, intimate partner violence (IPV) affects lesbian, bisexual, and gay people at the same or higher rates than non-LGB people. Transgender people in particular experience IPV at higher rates – about 30 to 50%, compared to 28 to 33% of the general population. However, LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination and violence when accessing care and support around relationship violence.

Working together to support each other as a community, and helping support those who might be in abusive relationships, is crucial to helping prevent intimate partner violence before it escalates. In doing so, we must also work to enrich our narratives and models of what healthy, loving LGBTQ relationships look like, and support each other in understanding and learning that we are all deserving of love, as a community and as individuals.

In memory of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.

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. Read the full list here.

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 homicide of Kerrice Lewis in Washington, D.C

NCAVP mourns the death of Kerrice Lewis, who was murdered in Washington, D.C. on December 28, 2017. According to media reports, 23-year-old Kerrice Lewis, who identified as a butch lesbian woman, was shot before being locked in the trunk of a car, which was then set on fire. Though police and medics were called, Lewis died at the scene.

We mourn the loss of Kerrice Lewis, and send love and care to her family and loved ones. She was remembered by her grandfather as a “free spirit” who was “full of life” and that she would “light up a room, just talking and laughing.” Her best friend also spoke at length about Kerrice’s loving and caring nature.

All too often, the deaths of lesbian women, especially lesbian women of color and butch lesbians, are not spoken about or ignored. We seek to honor Kerrice’s identity as a Black, butch lesbian woman, and uplift her memory.

In memory of Kerrice Lewis.

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. Read the full list here.

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 deaths of Shanta Myers, Jeremiah Myers, Shanise Myers, and Brandi Mells

NCAVP mourns the deaths of Shanta Myers, Jeremiah Myers, Shanise Myers, and Brandi Mells who were found dead on December 26, 2017. According to media reports, Shanta Myers, 36, and her two children, as well as her partner, Brandi, were bound before being killed. There are no suspects yet in their murders. Isaiah Myers, 15, Shanta’s oldest son, was out of town at the time and is the only surviving member of the family.

We mourn the loss of Shanta Myers, her children, 11-year-old Jeremiah and 5-year-old Shanise, and her partner, 22-year-old Brandi Mells, and we send love and care to their friends and loved ones, especially Isaiah, Shanta’s eldest son. The Myers-Mells family were remembered by many as loving, sweet, and good-natured.

NCAVP member In Our Own Voices, an LGBTQ people of color organization located in Albany, New York, released a statement about the tragic murders:

“In Our Own Voices is deeply saddened by the tragic news out of Lansingburgh, New York (Troy), this week. Violence impacting any community is devastating and difficult to comprehend. Violence involving children and community members can be even harder to understand and/or navigate. As an LGBT people of color organization, the Staff and Board of In Our Own Voices would like to extend our sincerest condolences to all those impacted by this senseless and horrific act, and offer $1,000 REWARD for any information on who may have taken the lives of Shanta Myers, 36, her partner Brandi Mells, 22, and their two children- Shanise Myers, 5, and Jeremiah “JJ” Myers, 11 years old. Please forward the information to the Troy Police Department at (518) 270-4411. We look forward to the exhaustive and just resolution of this crime for the Myers’ family and our community.  Finally, we are here If you or anyone maybe experiencing difficulty in the aftermath of this event, please contact IOOV’s Capital Region Anti-Violence Project at 518.432.4188.

To donate to the Funeral & Memorial services for Myers Family, please go to:  https://www.gofundme.com/peaceforthemyersfamily. The fundraiser will help alleviate the cost of funeral and burial services. Additional money will be used to provide Mental Health services to the kids, families and the community as well as setting up a scholarship and living money for the surviving child, Isaiah, 16. Every dollar helps. Please donate today.”

In memory of Shanta Myers, Jeremiah Myers, Shanise Myers, and Brandi Mells.

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. Read the full list here.

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.

Words Matter

The AVP Action Brief tracks actions of the Trump administration that impact our communities’ safety and rights and offers concrete steps that we can take to stand up for safety and justice.

We are here for you and we are in this together.

Words Matter

On Friday, in a meeting at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Trump administration pushed to prohibit the CDC from using a list of seven words in 2018 budget documents: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The erasure of science-based, evidence-based policies and the erasure of marginalized, vulnerable communities is a way for this administration to push their own agenda — one that has nothing to do with public good.

The Director of the CDC was quick to say that the list of words and phrases wasn’t a formal, outright ban; however, even suggesting that CDC employees not use words like “transgender” or “vulnerable” can change the direction of policies and research priorities at the CDC, our leading publicly funded, public health agency. Transgender people are already rarely included in public health research, meaning we have less information on the health and wellbeing needs of transgender communities. We must fight for transgender and gender non-conforming people to be counted too.

In the same way that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quietly removed questions about LGBTQ elders from research and LGBTQ-specific questions were removed from the census, this is another example of the Trump administration’s larger strategy of ignoring LGBTQ and other marginalized communities. When data isn’t being collected on our communities and their needs, they’re left out of public policy, funding decisions, and public health programming.

We must continue to demand transparency and responsibility from our publicly funded programs and insist that ALL communities are supported by the CDC.

 

Here’s what you can do. 

  • Support the National LGBT Task Force and National Partnership for Women & Families protest at HHS by sharing this video of Monday’s rally and amplifying their Wednesday rally—follow @TheTaskForce for the most updated information.
  • Contact your representatives to let them know that you want to push for LGBTQ and especially TGNC inclusion in CDC research and programming.
  • Join the conversation online using the hashtags #CDCbannedwords and #CDC7words.

 

And you can always:

  • Report violence you experience or witness to AVP and Communities Against Hate.
  • If you know someone who is an LGBTQ survivor of violence who is experiencing trauma or fear as a result of these recent actions, encourage them to contact AVP’s confidential 24-hour English/Spanish hotline at (212) 714-1141. They will be connected with a counselor who understands the ways this political climate is affecting our communities.
  • Get involved—volunteer with AVP!
  • Support AVP: Give now to ensure our voices are heard.
  • Forward this email to a friend. Ask them to sign up for the AVP Action Brief to stay informed and activated, too.

 

Further reading:

Washington Post: CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity
PBS: CDC director says there are ‘no banned words’ at the agency

NCAVP mourns the death of Brandi Seals, a Black transgender woman killed in Houston, Texas

NCAVP mourns the death of Brandi Seals, a Black transgender woman killed in Houston, Texas, on December 13, 2017. Brandi Seals is at least the 28th transgender and gender-nonconforming person we have lost to violence in 2017. According to media reports, Seals was found fatally shot, early on the morning of the 13th. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, though the investigation is still in its early stages. Early media reports misgendered and mis-named Brandi, and she was correctly identified by local activist Atlantis Narcisse, founder of Save our Sisters, a local group for Black transgender women. Brandi’s memory was honored in a vigil on December 14, at Brandon and Red Bud streets in Sunnyside.

We mourn the loss of Brandi Seals, and send love and care to her friends and loved ones. She was remembered by her aunt as a “loving, beautiful person.” She will be missed.

In memory of Brandi Seals.

 

Another vigil has been planned for Brandi Seals, and will be at Houston City Hall at 5 p.m. on December 15.

If you are in the Houston area and need support, NCAVP member the Montrose Counseling Center is here to support you in a number of ways, including their Trans*Fabulous Support Group which meets every Wednesday 7 pm. For more information call their 24 hour helpline at (713) 529-3211, or visit www.montrosecounselingcenter.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.

NCAVP mourns the intimate partner violence related homicide of Devon Wade in Houston, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Devon Wade, who was fatally shot early in the morning of November 27, 2017. According to media reports, he was shot by Mario Jerrell Williams, who called himself his boyfriend, following a dispute at Devon’s home. Williams has been taken into custody. Devon, who was finishing his doctorate at Columbia, was honored during a vigil in New York City on the night of the 27th.

We mourn the loss of Devon Wade, who is the 16th LGTBQ victim of fatal intimate partner violence NCAVP has counted this year, and send love and care to his friends and loved ones. Devon, who was working to end carceral violence and disrupt the prison pipeline, was a beloved member of the Columbia University, Louisiana State University, and Kappa Alpha Psi communities. Many spoke out on social media to remember his life, and Devon was remembered in an article describing his work to help marginalized communities: “Wade worked fervently so that those without a “bright future”—individuals who often fall between the cracks of mass incarceration, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia—would not be forgotten. That memory should not be erased.”

Though not often talked about, intimate partner violence (IPV) affects LGBTQ people at the same or higher rates than non-LGBTQ people. And yet, LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination and violence when accessing care and support around relationship violence.  This is particularly true for gay and bisexual men, and for transgender and gender non-conforming survivors, who fall outside the traditional understanding of IPV occurring in cisgender, heteronormative relationships.  We must work together to support each other as a community, and help support those who might be in abusive relationships, and we must also work to enrich our narratives and models of what healthy, loving LGBTQ relationships look like.

In memory of Devon Wade.

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. Read the full list here.

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. If you have witnessed or experienced violence, or if you want support, you can call NYC AVP’s hotline anytime, at 212 714 1141 or use the online reporting form.

NCAVP mourns the homicide of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson in Oklahoma City, OK

NCAVP mourns the death of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, a Black transgender woman killed in Oklahoma City, OK, on November 27, 2017. Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson is at least the 27th transgender and gender-nonconforming person we have lost to violence in 2017. According to media reports, Stevenson was found dead early the morning of the 27th and police are investigating her death as a homicide, though the investigation is still in its early stages.

We mourn the loss of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, and send love and care to her friends and loved ones. “We are heartbroken,” said Brooklyn’s family in a statement earlier this week. “Brooklyn BreYanna was an amazing daughter, sister and friend with a giving and loving heart. We pray that those who committed this heinous crime will be identified and Brooklyn will receive justice.”

In memory of Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson.

 

To contribute to Brooklyn’s family’s funeral expenses, donate here.

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. Read the full list here. You can also call NYC AVP’s hotline at any time for support: 212 714 1141.

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 homicide of Giovanni Melton in Henderson, NV

NCAVP mourns the death of Giovanni Melton, a 14-year-old gay Black teenager who was killed on October 2nd, 2017. According to media reports, Giovanni was fatally shot by his father, Wendell Melton, over Giovanni’s sexuality and the fact that Giovanni had a boyfriend. His former foster mother, Sonja Jones, said: “Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years.”

We mourn the loss of Giovanni Melton, who at 14, is the youngest LGBTQ person we have lost to hate violence and domestic violence this year, and send love and care to his friends and loved ones. Giovanni was remembered as a selfless friend who brought joy to everyone he met, and we are saddened that such a young light has been lost.

We must work to create and protect safe, supportive, and affirming environments for LGBTQ youth at all points in their lives. And we must do the difficult work of reaching out to the people we know and love in order to address the homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia that persists in our communities of color and other marginalized identities.

In memory of Giovanni Melton.

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. Read the full list here.

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.