Queens D.A. won’t investigate transgender attack as a hate crime

On June 19 — that’s right, during Pride Month — Leslie Moya (pictured above), a transgender woman from Queens, was walking home from a nightclub when two men assaulted her and brutally beat her with a belt buckle.

They stopped only when a passing motorist threatened to call the police. Throughout the attack, Leslie’s assailants called her a “faggot” in Spanish. The attack left Leslie with multiple injuries, including bruises all over her body, and stitches in her scalp. Police called to the scene found Leslie nearly naked and bleeding on the sidewalk. They also recovered a belt buckle from the assailants that was covered in blood.

Despite the fact that Mora was clearly targeted for her (perceived) sexual orientation, the Queens District Attorney is refusing to investigate (PDF) the attack as a hate crime.

If you’re a New York State resident, now’s a good time to pressure the state Senate to pass the pending transgender hate-crimes legislation, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). (It has passed the Assembly and is awaiting Senate action.)

Click here for a list of states with trans-inclusive hate crimes laws. And also check out an alternate view on hate-crimes laws, from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

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17 Comments

  1. Renee
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I had not heard about this. Thanks for writing it up. The violence that the trans community must live with is immoral and inhuman. Just last week a woman in Russia was killed for being transgender. I will never understand how someones existence can be viewed as so threatening that violence is understood as a solution. How did she threaten them by simply walking down the street? The assailants were insecure in their gender identity and acted out. The fact that socially we continue to devalue the lives of trans people in our daily discourse only encourages this kind of behavior. These men need to be prosecuted for hate crimes and until the violence against the trans community is taken seriously, we are going to continue to see this kind of violence. Thank God the woman escaped with her life, so many don’t.

  2. ghostorchid
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I can’t imagine going through life having my fears consistently validated instead of allayed.

  3. Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    At first I thought that this was alking about Richard Brown, the same Queens DA who refused to try David Kao’s murder as a hate crime. But no, it’s a different DA, Paul Schraeter.
    Does anyone know if there’s some disincentive in the system for DAs to call a hate crime a hate crime?

  4. KatieTheta
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Good luck passing anything in the NYS Senate right now. They refuse to work because two Democrats decided to become Republicans, giving the GOP the majority, which the Democrats refused, and then one went back. There’s been no work done in the NYS Senate for a few weeks now…

  5. Alessa
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    It can’t be anything less than that they are perceived as less than human. I heard a conversation on a radio talk show yesterday arguing over the morality of beating up a hooker.
    The morality? All I could do is think “but oh my god they’re people and you can’t understand that”
    This is the power of hate mixed with social conditioning. Completely terrifying.

  6. Nora Rocket
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    This. The work of the people of New York is being stalled for some ego-driven political posturing–and not just by the two Dems who declared they’d caucus with the Repubs. I hope when reelection comes around voters will remember that the jobs these people were elected into did not get done at a crucial time because the entire legislative body wouldn’t hitch up their workin’ suits and get some damned work done. I’d like every last bum thrown out, but I’ll settle for the two instigators and my own state senator, Onorato, who flat out refuses to speak with constituents about one issue and one issue only: gay marriage. Representative fail.

  7. jm
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Has there been a discussion on the blog about the value of hate crimes legislation in general? I agree that if there is hate crimes legislation, trans people ought to be included; and I understand the reasoning behind it (mainly that hate crimes are akin to terrorism, in that they are damaging to whole communities of people, not just individuals); but I’m unsure whether enhanced penalties are a good idea. I’d like to hear people’s arguments in favor of hate crime legislation, because I’m leaning toward the SRLP view.

  8. KatieTheta
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I know, it’s the whole senate that’s being stubborn and refusing to go to work. They’re acting like children; it’s sickening. The Dems refuse to be on the Senate floor at the same time as the GOP and vise versa. What do these people think they were elected for? So they could throw hissy fits and pout until they get their way? I don’t think so…

  9. Nora Rocket
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    You’re so right: like children! It’d be humorous if it weren’t coming at the expense of important legislation like the acts currently being allowed to die on the floor. Arg, right?! ARG! I’d run against Onorato myself if I could find the time.

  10. Vexing
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I never thought it was that bad, at first. Early in transistion, when I was easy to clock as trans, it was all catcalls, ‘fucking tranny’ this and ‘he-she’ that.
    You learn to deal with that.
    But somewhere along the way, you begin to pass as female. The catcalls stop and people treat you like a human being.
    Until, that is, you get outed.
    The reaction of people who find out that you are trans – but though you were a ciswoman – can be shocking. Violent even.
    My boyfriend was hospitalised with head injuries after he was caught holding hands with a ‘tranny’. I’ve had my leg slashed open with a knife after someone realised I wasn’t a ‘real woman’.
    The fear is very real. Some days it’s an effort to leave the house, because you don’t know what might happen to you.
    But the act of matching my outward appearance to my internal self-image was worth it, no matter how many scars I gain in the process.

  11. zp27
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I have a question related to that-is there a hate crime statute in New York? And is perceived sexual orientation or gender identity a protected category? if not, it may have been that the DA _couldn’t_ charge it as a hate crime-the post makes me think that the avenue was open. If anyone knows, please enlighten me. I’ll look it up for myself as well, but someone who’s knowledgable would be a help.
    As to your point, im, I see where you’re coming from. If there is any sort of hate crime legislation or statute, any classification, whether listed or not, that can be proved to be the basis for the crime should be sufficient to label it a “hate crime” and charge accordingly. And I feel very torn on this myself. Mostly because I know-how can I not?- that people DO target women, persons of color, people who don’t fit their gender or sexuality expectations, and transgendered persons for crimes because of who those victims are, and what they represent for the criminal. And I would like to see them punished, because it’s a particularly odios form of a crime to me-to not just have random violence lurking in your heart, but targeted hate that might make you more likely to commit a crime? That’s fucking scary. These are the radicals and the crazies, the angry or sociopathic, and some of them only hurl insults, some of them only posture-but a lot of them terrify and assault their victims, and a lot of them end up murdering people. I don’t like them, and I feel no sympathy for them.
    And yet-criminal law doesn’t take motive into account. Not for murder. Not usually. It’s all about state of mind, yes, but that has to do with “intent” to commit the crime, or willfulness or a reckless knowledge that crime will result ffrom your actions. Why you comit the crime is not part of the criminal statute itself, traditionally. That can come out at trial, or at sentencing, but I don’t know how comofortable I am with motive being made an element of a crime. How long before we start seeing motive introduced into almost all assaults or homicides? How will we discern motive if we don’t have the proof that we have here? Can minorities commit hate crimes against the perceived majority? Who should be included? Any class? I don’t know these answers. I guess it makes more sense to me to have this evidence count as a factor to enhance a sentence-a lot of things that aren’t admissible at trial to prove guilt factor into sentencing, and I’m not sure that I have so much of a legal argument against using it there, and I’m not sure I could even make the motive argument there.
    It’s a good question to ask though, and I hope some people here have points to make to challenge me, because I almost don’t like my own conclusions.

  12. zp27
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    This is horrible. This is unjust, and it makes my heart hurt. To have to believe that the system really doesn’t consider some people to be worthwhile because of their gender identity or status as trans gender is so painful-and I can’t imagine how it must feel for her and her family to have to go through this.

  13. gudbuytjane
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    This. So much, this. I sometimes think the majority of trans women must have some degree of PTSD, because there’s no way you navigate a culture that is so consistently hateful and violent towards you without it battering your psyche to some degree.
    Thinking of Leslie Moya and hoping she will be okay.

  14. j7sue2
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    A large part of the social attitude to trans women goes something like “You’re not a REAL woman. You’re clearly not a man. Therefore you’re not a human being. Die bitch”
    It’s very painful.
    Mysogyny, homophobia coincide… Do trans men face anything like this? I keep reading about my sisters being murdered and beaten up, but I’m not conscious of similar stories affecting trans men?

  15. Anathema
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Trans Men definatly face horrible discrimination aswell, although im horrified to hear this story, unfortunatly stories such as these are all too common.
    One of my closest friends came out this year as a trans man, and in the span of a few months was kicked out of his house, had parental loans for college taken back, and basically ostrasized from his family compleatly. This on top of the discrimination from his family prior for being an out lesbian (he came out as lesbian prior to coming out as trans).
    Although I know this is certainly NOT on the same level as what this woman went through, I thought it was important to reply to your question and I have no other personal stories relating to trans men. Please understand everyone that I am not equalling the two situations, but I cannot stand when people try to place a level on how much worse one persons situation is over anothers. (Oh certainly not saying anyone was doing this, sorry, im new to these boards, as of two minutes ago).
    The trans community is regretably much less visible than needed, and everyone must band together to bring issues like this public. I hadent even heard of Leslie Moya before reading this. These horrific events must be talked about in order to ensure they do not happen to more people. Ignorance and this attitude of “trans people are not ‘real’ people” is violent and threatening in itself, because the minute someone is able to dehumanize another, it makes it easier for them to violate and even kill that person.

  16. Anathema
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Trans Men definatly face horrible discrimination aswell, although im horrified to hear this story, unfortunatly stories such as these are all too common.
    One of my closest friends came out this year as a trans man, and in the span of a few months was kicked out of his house, had parental loans for college taken back, and basically ostrasized from his family compleatly. This on top of the discrimination from his family prior for being an out lesbian (he came out as lesbian prior to coming out as trans).
    Although I know this is certainly NOT on the same level as what this woman went through, I thought it was important to reply to your question and I have no other personal stories relating to trans men. Please understand everyone that I am not equalling the two situations, but I cannot stand when people try to place a level on how much worse one persons situation is over anothers. (Oh certainly not saying anyone was doing this, sorry, im new to these boards, as of two minutes ago).
    The trans community is regretably much less visible than needed, and everyone must band together to bring issues like this public. I hadent even heard of Leslie Moya before reading this. These horrific events must be talked about in order to ensure they do not happen to more people. Ignorance and this attitude of “trans people are not ‘real’ people” is violent and threatening in itself, because the minute someone is able to dehumanize another, it makes it easier for them to violate and even kill that person.

  17. Anathema
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Im sorry for the double post! x.x

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