Second Queens Hate Crime Assault
Less than a month after the brutal assault on Leslie Mora, another transgender woman was attacked in Queens. On the evening of July 8, 2009, Carmella Etienne was walking in her neighborhood near 199th Street and 116th Avenue in St. Albans, when a group of men began shouting anti-LGBT slurs, throwing rocks and beer bottles, and threatening to cut her throat. Carmella sustained a large laceration on her leg from a broken bottle and was treated at a nearby hospital.
Carmella's assailants, Nathaniel Mims, 25, and Rasheed Thomas, 22, were arrested at the scene and have been charged with assault as a hate crime because they were allegedly motivated by anti-gay bias. That Carmella is, in fact, transgender highlights the unique nature of this prosecution, as well as the need for reform of New York State and federal hate crime laws. New York State law currently classifies it as a hate crime for an individual to target and attack a victim because of the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. While Carmella is a transgender woman, her assault is a hate crime because her attackers allegedly perceived her to be gay and targeted her for violence because of that perception. Neither New York State nor federal hate crime laws include gender identity or gender expression as protected hate crime categories. Indeed, federal law includes neither gender identity and expression nor sexual orientation as hate crime categories.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, murders of LGBT people in 2008 increased 28% from the previous year. More than 2,400 people reported being victims of hate violence involving incidents motivated by anti-LGBT bias. 12% of these reports on hate violence involved incidents motivated by anti-transgender bias. Nearly 300 transgender people filed reports of violence against them during the reporting period. On average, a transgender person is murdered once a month in the United States, based upon information collected by Remembering Our Dead and Transgender Day of Remembrance.
TLDEF is working closely with Carmella to ensure that her assailants are brought to justice.