For Immediate Release: June 21, 2019
Councilmember Robert White's Statement on
Violence Against the LGBTQ Community
The recent spate of attacks against LGBTQ members of our community is part of a pattern of violence in our city and around the country, and it has to stop. We cannot and will not tolerate hate crimes such as these in the District of Columbia. No one should endure the terror of being targeted and attacked for being who they are. I want my LGBTQ neighbors to know that I see you, I hear you, I support you, and I am deeply troubled and disturbed by these attacks.
On March 30, I was saddened to hear of Ashanti Carmon’s still unsolved murder. And on June 13, I was stunned to hear that her friend, Zoe Spears, was also shot and killed just blocks away. I know the DC transgender community is reeling from these losses. Yet, even at the LGBTQ community center Casa Ruby, where they should feel safest, transgender women were recently threatened by a man with a gun.
In 2019, ten transgender women have been violently killed in the United States; all were African-American. Fatal violence against transgender women of color is a national issue and having two of these horrific deaths in our own backyard is an outrage. Transgender women experience clear anti-transgender bias, and their transgender status often puts them at risk in other ways. They experience discrimination in the workplace, when they look for housing, and even when trying to access government services. This sometimes forces them into unemployment, homelessness, or survival sex work, all of which puts them at greater risk of violence.
LGBTQ individuals continue to face discrimination and harassment in public spaces both in DC and across the country. Just a few days ago, Karl Craven and Braden Brecht were attacked on U Street by men using a homophobic slur. DC is, and should always be, a welcoming community. It is our responsibility to address and denounce all hate crimes.
We have not done enough to protect and support LGBTQ residents in the District. I plan to work with the Mayor, my colleagues on the Council of the District of Columbia, government agencies, and LGBTQ organizations and individuals to address LGBTQ access to basic needs and services such as safe housing and mental health. I will work with the rest of the Council to release a statement of no tolerance for violence against transwomen and sex workers. I also will introduce legislation to create a platform for transwomen of color to shape the policies and programs that they believe they need to improve both health and safety. And I will work with the Council to hold a roundtable with government agencies and community organizations that work with transgender women to discuss how we as a city can better serve them.
I am sending letters to Mayor Muriel Bowser and to Chairman Phil Mendelson to ask for their support and assistance in addressing these issues. We can do better to protect marginalized communities. I ask the Mayor, the Council, and the District as a whole to join me as I learn about the issues and fears LGBTQ members of our community face and to take action to improve their safety and overall well-being.
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