Classmate arrested in hate-crime attack on transgender Houston Community College student Lance Reyna

Posted on 30 Jun 2010 at 7:32pm
Lance Reyna

One of Lance Reyna’s classmates has been arrested in the transgender student-activist’s hate-crime beating inside a Houston Community College restroom last week, The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday evening.

Terrance Calhoun, 22, was arrested on campus Wednesday and charged with aggravated robbery in the attack on 29-year-old Lance Reyna.

Reyna was washing his hands when his attacker emerged from a stall and put a knife to his throat saying, “Hey queer, I need you to be quiet, cooperate, and give me all your valuables.” Reyna, who is both transgender and gay, was knocked to the floor and beaten and kicked. His wallet and credit cards were taken.

Reyna told The Chroncile he’s slightly relieved about the arrest but still feels he was targeted and won’t be satisfied until Calhoun is convicted of a hate crime. Unfortunately, prosecutors say it’s unlikely they’ll pursue a hate-crime charge. Again, that’s because Texas law provides no enhanced penalty for hate crimes if the offense is already a first-degree felony, such as aggravated robbery.

While aggravated robbery is punishable by life in prison, it is difficult for law enforcement to send a message — or for the statute to act as a deterrent — if cases aren’t formally prosecuted as hate crimes. Furthermore, Texas’ hate crimes law doesn’t protect transgender people, so if the case were prosecuted as a hate crime, defense attorneys could try to argue that the statute doesn’t apply, even though Reyna is also gay.

From The Chronicle:

The victim, who has been active in transgender and other gay and lesbian organizations, said he still suffers pain from his injuries. “I don’t feel safe on campus,” he said. “Just looking at the building triggers my memories. I deal with night terrors every day.”

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