Press

Task Force Calls For Continued Vigilance in Solving Murders of Transgender Women in SE Washington, DC

Date: 
August 14, 2002

Washington, DC— In response to the murder of two transgender teen-agers in Southeast Washington on Monday, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Lorri L. Jean issued a statement yesterday calling for quick action to bring the killers to justice; she further urged local and national leaders to heighten their efforts to prevent hate-motivated violence against all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. "When ignorance and fear pose daily risks to a segment of our community, it is cause for concern. When that ignorance and fear leads to murder, it is time for action," said Jean in her statement.

According to news reports, police found Ukia Davis, 18, and Stephanie Thomas, 19, in the front seat of Thomas' Toyota Camry in a southeastern part of the city, less than a block from Thomas' apartment. Each victim had at least 10 bullet wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. Thomas and Davis became friends during their mid-teens when they met at an agency that serves transgender youth.

Police have not yet identified either suspects or a motive for the shootings. In response to the killings, several GLBT advocacy groups, including the Task Force, joined together in planning a vigil for Tuesday night in the vicinity of the shootings. Several community leaders spoke at the event, including Task Force Communications Director Jubi Headley, and DC Mayor Anthony Williams.

The full text of Jean's statement follows.

Statement by Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director

"When ignorance and fear pose daily risks to a segment of our community, it is cause for concern. When that ignorance and fear leads to murder, it is time for action.

"In the early morning of August 12, two young transgender women were murdered in the Southeast section of DC. Police have few, if any, leads, so we cannot speak to what exactly has caused this tragedy, or who has perpetrated this heinous crime.

"What we can do is redouble our efforts to educate the community at large about the rights, needs and concerns of transgender people. And we can urge the police to act as quickly and as effectively as possible to identify the person or persons responsible for the murders of these teens and to act to bring them swiftly to justice.

"A person’s right to free expression of their gender should not put them at daily risk of assault — and worse, as may well be the case here — murder. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will continue to work to educate local, state and federal leaders, as well as the community at large, about the importance of prohibiting discrimination and preventing hate crimes based on gender expression and identity."

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The NGLTF Transgender Civil Rights Project works to increase the number of state, local, and federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender expression and identity, to ensure that the entire range of gender non-conforming people are covered by such legislation.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.