A Transgender Woman Dies After an Assault in Harlem [Update]


As if we needed another helping of tragedy this summer: Twenty-one-year-old Islan Nettles died last night from injuries sustained during fight in Harlem. The fight is believed to have been a verbal attack that escalated when the assailants discovered Nettles’s gender identity.

Nettles was out with friends on Saturday when they encountered a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue. An argument ensued, ending with Nettles being rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. She had been on a ventilator for five days before she died.

There is nothing original left to say about reasons behind the rash of hate crimes this summer. Last count puts the number at 68 so far this year, 14 more than in all of 2012. Is it a result of better reporting to authorities? Or, now that a more progressive social regime is set to inherit the city, is this the Last Flail of the Homophobes?

Couldn’t say either way, but I’m betting I’ll find the answer at the bottom of this jar of gin.

UPDATE: Nettles’ death has renewed calls from lawmakers to pass GENDA, an anti-discrimination bill that has been spiked six times by the New York State Legislature, most recently this past legislative session.

This morning, state Senator Daniel Squadron, sponsor of GENDA in the Senate, released a statement condemning Nettles’ murder and reaffirming the central language of the proposed law

GENDA would expand New York’s hate crime laws to explicitly include crimes against transgender individuals. And it would ensure that transgender New Yorkers are protected from discrimination–so that no one loses their job or is evicted from their home or denied basic public accommodations because of how they identify.

Good on you, Squadron. That would just leave 36 other states with no protections for trans people to go!