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Family of murdered New York trans woman call for protection under hate crimes bill

Jessica Geen July 14, 2009
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The family of Lateisha Green, the trans woman who was shot dead last year, have called for trans people to be protected under New York’s hate crime laws.

Green, 22, was killed at a party in November 2008. She was dressed in men’s clothes and attended the event with her brother Nick Cannon.

Several partygoers assumed the pair were gay and began shouting abuse. Moments later, one, man, Dwight DeLee, shot Green dead with a single bullet. Cannon was injured by the bullet, which grazed his arm.

DeLee is to be prosecuted of murder as a hate crime, but on the basis that he thought Green was gay, rather than trans.

Gender identity and gender expression are not counted explicitly as hate crimes under New York law or federal law.

Standing outside court after the trial began this week, Green’s family called for a change in the law.

Rhonda Gary, an aunt who spoke on behalf of the family, said: “We call upon the lawmakers to be courageous and do the right thing by passing hate crime legislation that protects transgender people like Teish from violence and discrimination.

“By sharing Teish’s story, we hope to break a cycle. Teish’s courage to live openly and proudly gives us the strength to tell her story so that others will never have to know the feeling of losing a family member or friend because they are different.”

She added that Green had suffered beatings and harassment in school for dressing as a woman, and even had her face slashed.

If DeLee is convicted of the hate crime murder, this would only be the second such convicted involving a trans person.

In April, Colorado man Allen Andrade was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of 18-year-old trans woman Angie Zapata.

For the first time a 2005 law that added protections for people based on sexual orientation, including “transgender status,” to the state’s “bias-motivated crimes” statute, was used.

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