There are still no charges in the death of Kenneth Bostick, a transgender man fatally attacked in Chelsea on April 25, but the NYPD says a “person of interest” is in custody. Although the victim’s birth name, Brenda Bostick, was released by the NYPD and he was identified by the same in reports, a social services provider who worked with Bostick for years confirmed to the Voice that he identified as male and has been widely misgendered by advocacy organizations and the media (including the Village Voice) since his death. The provider, who is not authorized to speak to reporters, explained that they were seeking to set the record straight on Bostick’s behalf.
“For the people who knew him and worked with him, the media’s constant reference to him as ‘she’ is extraordinarily painful and difficult,” the provider told us.
Bostick, 59, who lived in a shelter at the Bowery Residents Committee on West 25th Street, was attacked on a Chelsea street corner with what police say was a metal pipe. The NYPD responded to an emergency call at about 10:30 a.m. on April 25 and found Bostick in front of a Five Guys restaurant on West 29th Street, not far from the BRC shelter, with a head injury. He spent more than a week in Bellevue Hospital before he died on May 4.
The person held in his death, Joseph Griffin, 26, according to the Daily News, has also faced homelessness. The paper’s police sources say he was allegedly observed by witnesses striking Bostick in the head with a blunt object: “The suspect walked away but turned back a second later and shouted, ‘Someone stole my bag.’ ”
According to the social services provider, Bostick was an only child, born in New Jersey and raised in the New York area, mostly by his grandparents. He appears to have drifted toward homelessness after their deaths, which came sometime in the late aughts. Substance abuse and mental health issues may have fueled that drift. Between stays in the shelter system, Bostick was a regular at Penn Station, where he lived off and on.
Beyond such basic information, however, little else has emerged. Advocacy groups who spoke to the Voice have also had trouble reconstructing much of Bostick’s life. Constrained by confidentiality rules, BRC staff members can’t talk about their client. He appears to have maintained no social media platforms.
For residents at the BRC shelter on West 25th Street, Bostick — he was widely known by his last name — was a shy, gentle presence.
“Really quiet, but super nice, very kind to everyone,” said resident Jason Rozycki, 31, noting that he considered Bostick a friend. “Never did anyone any wrong. Never bothered anybody. Just a really nice person.”
“It affected everybody when we heard,” Rozycki added.