UPDATE: Suspect arrested in D.C. shooting

Police in Washington, D.C., have charged Darryl Willard with “assault with intent to kill while armed,” in connection with the shooting early Monday of a transgender woman in southeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. police are investigating the death of this unidentified person who was found wearing facial make-up and carrying a pair of light-colored heels

According to the Washington Post, after being shot at about 1:50 a.m. in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE, the victim walked to the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the crime. The Post reports that the victim knew her attacker and gave his name to police. Willard later turned himself in to authorities.

The victim, who is not named in the newspaper’s article, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was found early Saturday, according to reports by the Associated Press. Police said that when the man’s body was found, he had makeup on his face and had with him a pair of light-colored high-heel shoes. The man appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between the ages of 25 and 30.

Police said they have no information on whether the dead man was gay or transgender, and that his body showed no signs of trauma.

The Monday shooting was the fourth time in less than two months that a transgender woman has been shot or shot at in the D.C. area. On July 20, Lashai Mclean died after being shot by a man who approached her as she walked with a friend in the city’s Northeast section. The man asked Mclean a question and then pulled a gun and shot her before she could answer, according to the friend, who was uninjured.

Eleven days later and just blocks away from the site of Mclean’s murder, a suspect approached another trans woman, asked for change and then pulled a gun and shot at her before she could answer. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

And in August, a D.C. police officer on medical leave was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he stood on the hood of a car and fired into the car containing two men and two trans women. One of the men was injured slightly in the attack.

—  admin

Gay teen beat up at school; police say its not a hate crime

Rito Osorio, a 16-year-old at Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Ind., was beaten up by a classmate last week in a school bathroom as the attacker yelled anti-gay slurs at home. But Sellersburg police refuse to call the attack a hate crime.

The attacker, also 16, was arrested and charged with battery.

Osorio told WHAS Channel 11 that he had never had any confrontations with the boy who attacked him, and when approached him during lunch, tapped him on the shoulder and said “Hey man, we’ve got to talk,” he didn’t think anything of it. Osario followed the other boy into the bathroom where the other boy began punching him and shouting slurs at him as other students watched.

Osario’s nose was broken and he suffered several cuts and bruises. He said the attacker hit him so hard at one point that Osario’s lip ring was jammed into the roof of his mouth, and he will need surgery to have it removed.

But the Sellersburg police chief said it was just a schoolyard fight, not a hate crime, and that the case is closed. But that didn’t satisfy Rito’s mother, Andrea Osario, who said she is afraid her son will be attacked by other students if he returns to school.

Although the WHAS report does not identify Rito Osario as gay, Pam’s House Blend blog said he is openly gay, and that the teen who attacked him said he was angry over rumors that Rito thought he was gay, also.

—  admin

The face of anti-trans violence

As North Texans commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance, one trans woman remembers the attack she survived as a child

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Winter Mullenix
Winter Mullenix

To many people, statistics on anti-transgender violence are just numbers. Astounding, perhaps frightening, but still just numbers.

Winter Mullenix is the face of one of those numbers. One of many.

Mullenix was attacked when she was 9 years old by someone who had apparently been stalking her for a while.

“He was disgusted by my behavior. I was living as a boy, but it was obvious to everyone,” she said, describing herself. “I would dance and prance and I hung out with the girls.”

Mullenix said that when she was a child, she would sneak out of the house at night and go to a nearby playground. She isn’t sure now what time she left the night she was attacked, but, she said, she knows she had waited until everyone in the house was sound asleep.

“He jumped me,” she said. “He was hiding near the playground.”

Mullenix said her attacker jumped out from behind a tree or maybe even from inside the hollowed-out old tree. Then he grabbed her and dragged her down to a creek near the playground.

“If you want to be a woman, you have to learn to bleed like a woman,” he told her.

Then he put a knife into her rectum and cut the skin around her tailbone. Then he raped her, using her blood as lubricant, she said.

Before he left her, Mullenix said, he asked, “You don’t want to be a little girl anymore, do you, faggot?”

Those words are burned into her memory, proof that the attack was a hate crime and not just the actions of a violent pedophile.

When he was done, he left Mullenix for dead, laying in a pipe connected to the sewer.

Her memory of getting home is blurry. She told no one about what happened and healed without medical attention. Her attacker was never caught, at least not for this crime. Mullenix never reported the rape.

“I became numb,” she said. “I cut myself off from the world.”

Mullenix said she became delusional and entered a fantasyland to mask her pain. But things started to change five years later when she began the process of coming out as transgender at age 14. She was having severe nightmares.

“I’d doodle a lot during class,” she said. “My Spanish teacher noticed I was drawing very violent things. She worried about what was happening to me and sent me to a school counselor.”

The school counselor referred Mullenix to outside counseling until she achieved her goal at age 20 of having sex reassignment surgery.

“I was focused,” Mullenix said.

She had determination uncommon in a teenager.

Although continuing to dress as a male until age 17, Mullenix knew who she was when she began going to counseling. Throughout her teens she was determined to complete her transition early. She worked, saved money and paid for the surgery herself.

Despite the words of her attacker, Mullenix knew exactly what she wanted and who she was.

“I felt as normal as I could when I completed the transition,” she said.

But Mullenix still suffers the psychological effects of the brutal attack. She has panic attacks and a fear of the dark.

“I can’t sleep without a light on,” she said.

She’s paranoid that someone is going to sneak up behind her and jump her. She scares easily. She’s uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

“People think I’m a creature of habit,” Mullenix said. But she actually just avoids unfamiliar places.

“I survived,” she said. “But I have friends who died from violent crimes.”

“The homicide rate for transgenders is so high,” said Marla Compton, the coordinator for GEAR, the transgender program at Resource Center Dallas.

Human Rights Campaign estimates that one out of every 1,000 homicides in the U.S. is an anti-transgender hate crime.

“We do have to be more careful,” Mullenix said. “Violence is more likely for us.”

Despite her experiences, Mullenix said that she can’t let what happened control her life.

“[You] have to take control and take proper precautions,” she said. “For me, I’m happily married now and I have some great, supportive friends.”

Mullenix also stressed that a violent situation doesn’t have to mean the end of a normal life.

“I want transgender youth to know they shouldn’t let fear control them if something terrible happened and they survived it,” she said.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is important to Mullenix because it displays unity within the LGBT community.

“It acknowledges us as part of the community,” she said.

“The day gives us a chance to pause and remember those who left us and cherish those who are still here,” Compton said.

She said that having friends and allies attend a TDoR event is emotional and uplifting to her. But she also said that it helps others understand the violence the transgender community faces.

“Fortunately, I’ve never had to read the name of a friend at TDoR,” Compton said.

But too many others have.

Dallas’ Transgender Day of Remembrance observance takes place at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope Sunday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m.

Organizers asked people to participate in the memorial by bringing a flower. Speakers will include Cece Cox and Andy Moreno, with performances by Voice of Pride 2010 winner Mel Arizpe, Women’s Chorus of Dallas ensemble MosaicSong and the Youth First Texas choir PUMP!

In Fort Worth, TDoR remembrance will be held during morning worship at Agape Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

TV station suggested trans panic in San Antonio attack, but reports show it was more like rape

QSanAntonio has more on the alleged beating of a transgender woman on Sept. 23. The QSanAntonio report, which appears to be based on an actual police report, differs substantially from one posted by KENS Channel 5 last week. The TV station reported that the suspect hired the victim for sex and beat her after learning she was transgender. But according to QSanAntonio, the suspect actually raped the victim after she refused to have sex with him:

The victim told police that the man wanted to have sex but she said no. The man got angry and punched her in the face multiple times while screaming at her, “You want to be a woman!” The man pulled the truck over in a secluded area and the victim tried unsuccessfully to run away.

The man dragged the victim to a grassy area and pulled off her clothes and forced her to perform oral sex on him. The victim eventually was able to push the man away and run across the road to an apartment complex near the 3200 block of Hillcrest while her attacker drove away.

It was about 3 a.m. when the victim banged on the door of one apartment screaming “Please help me.” The apartment owner let the victim in and called police.

The QSanAntonio story goes on to say that police initially wrote “she” when referring to the victim in their report, but later crossed out the “s” to change it to “he.” So it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if we found out authorities were at least partly to blame for Channel 5′s sensationalized — and apparently inaccurate — story.

—  John Wright

Trans man Lance Reyna’s attacker has been released from jail, and he’s ‘about to lose it’

Terrance Calhoun

Back in June we told you about a brutal hate-crime attack against a transgender man inside a restroom on the campus of Houston Community College. Lance Reyna, a student-activist who’s both transgender and gay, 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 was knocked to the floor and beaten and kicked. His wallet and credit cards were taken. Terrance Calhoun, 22, was later arrested on campus and charged with aggravated robbery in the attack that occurred during Houston’s gay Pride week. Three months later, Calhoun has bonded out of jail as he awaits sentencing.

“I just got informed that my attacker is out of JAIL, someone please calm me down because I’m about to lose it,” Reyna wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

“I feel hopeless right now, plus all the bullying not being taken serious is something I can relate from my younger days in school,” he added Thursday night.

“Just spoke with HPD investigator, threatening text message has been documented. When number was ran it came up with a history,” Reyna wrote Friday morning.

Cristan Williams of the Houston-based Transgender Foundation for America reports on her blog that police don’t plan to pursue hate crime charges against Calhoun:

“Since the attacker won’t fess up to knowing that Lance was part of the GLBT community, he won’t be held accountable under State or Federal hate crime statutes and the case will be prosecuted as a simple assault,” Williams wrote. “As it stands now, he’s out of jail and may get off with a slap on the wrist and some community service because this is his, ‘first time offence’ (according to the DA’s office)!”

UPDATE: We spoke with Reyna on Friday afternoon, and he said Calhoun pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, earlier this month. Calhoun bonded out of jail this week while he awaits sentencing in early November, but Reyna said a prosecutor told him Calhoun could receive probation because it’s his first felony.

Reyna said the FBI investigated the case under the new federal hate crimes law that passed last year. However, because Calhoun wouldn’t admit that he targeted Reyna because he is transgender, the FBI opted not to pursue hate crimes charges. This was despite the fact that Calhoun used an anti-LGBT slur, “queer,” during the attack.

“I’m really disgusted with the way they don’t want to take things seriously,” Reyna said of authorities.

Reyna, who now attends the University of Houston, said Calhoun lives just a few blocks away from the campus, and he’s concerned for his safety. He said he hopes Calhoun is sentenced to at least 2 1/2 years behind bars, to give him a chance to finish school.

“That way, there would be less of a chance of me running into him,” Reyna said. “I had calmed down a little bit, but now I’m back to when it initially happened. I’m reliving the attack, and I don’t want to deal with the hell I went through right after it. It’s too much for me to deal with right now, just knowing he’s out on the streets.”

Reyna said it took him three weeks to recover from a concussion he sustained in the attack, and he’s currently undergoing counseling.

“They say have a lot of systems of post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “I have my good days and bad days, buy my level of anxiety just went up a couple of notches with him getting out of jail.”

Reyna said he also received a threatening text message a few days before Calhoun got out, but he is unsure who sent it. He has reported the message to police.

Williams, of the TFA, said she’s concerned about the standard that’s apparently being used by authorities to determine whether offenses are hate crimes. Texas’ hate crimes statute doesn’t include protections for transgender people, but the new federal law does.

“Apparently the attackers just have to come out and say, ‘Yes it’s a hate crime. I hate them, I was motivated by hate, now take me off to jail,’” Williams said. “Basically, unless they can have evidence that is beyond the pale, that is incontrovertible, they can’t prosecute it is as a hate crime.

“It would break if my heart, and it would make me lose a lot of respect for our legal system, if this guy gets off with a slap on the wrist and some community service after attacking a trans man with a deadly weapon and sending him to the hospital,” Williams said.

—  John Wright