Demanding justice for Tyli'a Mack
WASHINGTON--People rallied here and in San Francisco last weekend in honor of murdered transgender woman Tyli'a Mack and her surviving transgender friend, both victims of a brutal stabbing in Washington.
About 250 people held a vigil at the site of the August 26 attack, near the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, a local advocacy and social services organization where Tyli'a was a client. Another 100 people gathered in the Castro district of San Francisco, where they blocked traffic for over half an hour to protest the authorities' and media's lack of attention to the transgender community, especially when someone is assaulted or murdered.
Although the police have not classified the murder as a hate crime, and no suspects have been found, there is plenty of reason to suspect bigotry as a crucial factor. The hate speech spewing from right-wing radio and television, along with virtual silence (or worse) from many liberal politicians, has fostered a climate in which attacks on transgender and gay people have become all too common.
At the Washington, D.C., vigil, Kymberly Gordon confronted two cops about the picture on the leaflets they were handing out asking for leads, saying, "Whenever a transgender person is killed, there's always a mug shot or no picture at all. We are not deviants."
The response to this assault is an example of how the bigoted mindset is being challenged by LGBT people and their allies, with a strong sense of solidarity across different groups. In San Francisco, where the protest was organized by the group One Struggle One Fight, people chanted, "We're all Tyli'a" and "L-G-B-T, we demand equality."
In Washington, numerous LGBT rights organizations, many of them helping to organize the National Equality March scheduled for October 11, put out the call for the mass vigil.
In one message, activist Kellan Baker made an appeal for "all of us to turn out in support of D.C.'s trans community and of our collective right to safety, whether we're LGB, straight, trans or non-trans."