Lateisha Green's Murder Classified as a Hate Crime
You may recall the story of Lateisha "Teish" Green, the young transgender woman murdered in Syracuse, New York, who we told you about in our last newsletter. She was shot and killed outside a house party in Syracuse on Nov. 14, 2008. Media reports at the time indicated that Dwight R. DeLee, 20, allegedly shot her because he thought she was gay. On Friday, April 3rd, the grand jury investigating her murder indicted Dwight DeLee on hate crimes charges in connection with her death. This is the first murder classified as a hate crime in Onondaga County and the indictment sends a clear message that targeting transgender people for violence will not be tolerated.
We've been working with Lateisha's family since her death, and the grand jury's decision is a small victory in what has been a very difficult period for them. Teish's mother, Roxanne Green, had this to say in a press release we issued: "I am grateful that Teish's death will not be in vain, and that it will be prosecuted as a hate crime, which it was. It took a long time for Teish to live her life openly and proudly. When she finally stood up and began living as who she was, she was taken away from me. I can't understand how anyone can hate someone so much because of who they are, and I hope that no other mother has to mourn a child killed because of who she was. I hope that justice will be done."
What Can You Do?
While we wanted to update you on this development, we also want you to take action. Lateisha's death highlights the need to implement comprehensive hate crimes protections for transgender people. While the evidence in Lateisha's case indicated that her assailant attacked her because he thought she was gay (bringing the case within the purview of New York's hate crimes law), in many cases of violence against transgender people, that type of evidence doesn't exist. New York State law specifically includes sexual orientation as a hate crimes category, but it does not include gender identity or gender expression. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), would add gender identity and expression as protected hate crimes categories. On LGBT Equality & Justice Day (April 28th), hundreds of New Yorkers will travel to Albany to lobby for passage of GENDA. Please register now and help us secure protection from hate crimes.
Similarly, no federal law protects transgender people from hate-motivated violence. H.R. 1913, recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, would implement comprehensive hate crimes protections for Americans who are victims of attacks because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Contact your representatives today through the Task Force Action Fund and urge them to pass comprehensive federal hate crimes legislation.
We'll continue to keep you informed about developments in Lateisha's case.