April 6, 2009

Transgender Advocacy Group Applauds Hate Crimes Indictment in Murder of Lateisha Green

First-Ever Hate Crimes Indictment in New York's Onondaga County; Murder Highlights Need for State and Federal Transgender Hate Crimes Legislation

NEW YORK - Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) applauds Friday's decision by the Onondaga County District Attorney to prosecute the murder of Lateisha "Teish" Green as a hate crime.  This is the first murder prosecuted as a hate crime in Onondaga County.  Green, who was 22 and whose legal name was Moses Cannon, was transgender and lived as a woman.  She was shot and killed outside a house party in Syracuse on Nov. 14, 2008.  Media reports at the time indicated Dwight R. DeLee, 20, allegedly shot Green because he thought she was gay.

"The decision to prosecute Lateisha's murder as a hate crime sends a clear message that targeting transgender people for violence will not be tolerated," TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman said.  "Lateisha’s senseless death demonstrates the increased risk of violence transgender people face, but we are hopeful that justice will be done, and that the outcome will help prevent future violence against transgender people."

"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," Roxanne Green, the victim's mother, said.  "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."

Green's death highlights the need to implement comprehensive hate crimes protections for transgender people.  While the evidence in Green's death indicates her assailant attacked her because he thought she was gay, in many cases transgender people are targeted solely because of their gender identity or expression.  New York State law includes sexual orientation as a hate crimes category, but does not include gender identity or gender expression.  The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which the state Assembly passed last year, would add gender identity and expression as protected hate crimes categories.

Similarly, no federal law currently protects transgender people from hate-motivated violence.  H.R. 1913, which was 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. 

"Transgender people face discrimination and violence in communities across the country," Silverman said. "Lateisha's tragic death highlights the need for state and federal lawmakers to enact comprehensive hate crimes legislation to protect some of society’s most vulnerable members."