ETC Response to Recent Arrest in the Murder of Zoe Spears

Empowering the Transgender Communityer Community

Earline Budd, Executive Director of Empowering the Transgender Community, released the following statement following the arrest of a man believed to be responsible for the death of Zoe Spears.

On July 18th LBGTQ community and others received information that Prince Georges County police and detectives had apprehended a suspect in the June 13th murder of Zoe Spears. They showed a large poster of 33 year old Gerardo Thomas who was arrested and said to be a resident of Baltimore Maryland.  We would like to first say thank you to the Prince Georges County Police and Detectives for their hard work in bringing closure to Zoe’s murder.   But our community still will not and cannot rest until the murderer of Ashanti Carmon is apprehended also.  Both of these women were young and did not deserve to lose their lives this way, now leaving a void in transgender community.  We continue to feel strongly that it is not by coincidence that these two women were killed in Fairmont Heights within 90 days apart and only 5 blocks apart in Fairmont Heights Maryland.

The Transgender community will continue to speak out for justice in cases like this.   We hope that the police uncover some surveillance in the area where our sister and friend Ashanti Carmon was killed too.  We are happy that both Prince Georges County and the District of Columbia officials are working to assure that there are resources in place to help transgender women who find themselves in survival mode and seeking help.

On Sunday July 21st at 3:00 pm, Rev. Elder Akousa McCray will be doing a “Special Alter Call and Prayer”, as we thank God for this case being solved.  This service will be open to the community and at MCCDC located at 474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Today we still are asking the transgender community “PLEASE STAY OFF OF EASTERN AVENUE”, and seek resources from transgender community advocates and leaders.

ANC1A Passes Resolutions Supporting LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV and Urges the DC Council Enact a Gay and Trans “Panic” Defense Ban

ANC 1A Kent Boese

At the July 10, 2019, meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A (ANC1A), the Commission considered two resolutions introduced by Commissioner Kent Boese and unanimously passed both measures critical to the needs and safety of the LGBTQ community.

B23-0037 – the Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2019 – was recently intruded by Councilmembers Anita Bonds and Mary Cheh. As introduced, the bill includes LGBTQ seniors and seniors with HIV in the definition of groups of greatest social need for the purpose of allocating funds. It also establishes an LGBTQ HIV long-term care bill of rights. While ANC1A believes there is much more that needs to be done to support our seniors and LGBTQ community, the Commission believes this bill is an excellent start.

ANC1A also passed a measure requesting that the Secure A Fair and Equitable Trial Act of 2017 (ban on gay and trans “panic” defense bill) be reintroduced and passed by the DC Council. The bill was previously introduced in Council session 22 but died in the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. The failure to move this important legislation in one of the most progressive cities in the United States, and the city with the highest population of LGBTQ residents in the country, is both disappointing and unacceptable.

As introduced, the Secure A Fair and Equitable Trial Act of 2017 would required that upon the request of either the prosecutor or the defendant, the court would instruct the jury against letting bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence its decision. It also would establish limits on defenses that seek to excuse violence on the basis of a victim’s identity.

See Related Documents Below:

2019-07 – Letter of support for reintroducing the “Secure a Fair and Equitable Trial Act of 2017”

2019-07 – Letter of support for B23-0037 – Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2019

 

 

Fight Hate in DC: 10 Things You Can Do

10 Things You Can Do Right Now

If you attended the Vigil Against the Violence last month or last nights LGBTQ Community Meeting on Hate Violence hosted by Eleanor Holmes Norton, you know that there is a lot of work to be done to address the increase in Hate Crimes in DC.  Here are some things you can do right now to make a difference.

(1) Tell the DC Council to take action on hate crimes and pass the Trans and Gay Panic Defense Bill.  The gay and trans “panic” defense is a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.  Here in the District of Columbia the gay “panic defense” was used in the case of Tony Hunter.   Tony was a black gay man murdered in 2008 outside of a gay club on 9th Street NW.  And the man who killed him was sentenced to a mere six months in jail.  Learn more and sign the petition here.

(2) Celebrate the Life of Zoe Spears.  A memorial to celebrate the life of Zoe Spears July 12th at 10 AM at the Metropolitan Community Church.   Come be part of this event and honor Zoe’s memory.  thedccenter.org/events/zoespears

(3) Organize!  Join us for the next DC Anti-Violence Project Meeting.  The DC Anti-Violence Project aims to reduce violence against LGBTQ individuals (and those perceived as LGBTQ) through community outreach, education, monitoring of cases, advocacy, and community support.  thedccenter.org/events/dcavp

(4) Tell the DC Council to decriminalize sex work in DC.  Policing and criminalization of sex work is one of the primary sites of racial profiling, police violence, and mass incarceration of Black and brown women, girls, and trans and gender nonconforming folks. This violence is compounded when they are also denied access to housing, health care, transportation, healthy food, and other basic human needs based on discrimination and stigma. The decriminalization of sex work is one step in ending this violence.  Learn more and sign the petition here.

(5) Drop off food at Casa Ruby or Wanda Alston House or make hygiene kits for LGBTQ folks experiencing homelessness.   Zoe Spears was a client at both Casa Ruby or Wanda Alston House.  If you’d like to sign up to make dinner for youth experiencing homelessness at Casa Ruby or the Wanda Alston House, or if you would like to pull together a group of folks to make kits for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, Learn more about group volunteer opportunities here.

(6) Learn how hate crimes impact other communities.   Hate crimes are not just increasing in the LGBTQ community.   People (including some of us in the LGBTQ community) are being targeted because of our race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or disability.  The Hate Crimes Bias Task Force is a good place to learn more about all hate crimes in our city and to work in partnership with other communities that are being impacted.  We are stronger when we work together!  The next Hate Crimes Bias Task Force Meeting is July 24th at 7:00 PM at the DC Center.  thedccenter.org/events/hatebiastaskforce

(7) Attend your local ANC Meetings and run for office in the District! An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. They are a unique feature of the District’s Home Rule Charter.  The Commissioners, who serve two-year terms without pay, are elected at DC Elections in November in even-numbered years (e.g. 2016). The ANCs were established to bring government closer to the people, and to bring the people closer to government.  Our LGBT ANC reps are our fiercest advocates and supporters.   Learn more about ANC’s here, and if you are thinking about running for office the Victory Fund is a great place to start!

(8)  Tell DC Council to support the LGBT Older Adults and Long Term Survivors of HIV Amendment Act.  A lot of the recent conversations have focused on the need for services for the LGBTQ community, and a lot of work is underway to fight for the resources we need.   The Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act addresses this issue for our seniors and long term survivors!  The bill, modeled after similar efforts in Massachusetts and California, adds LGBT elders and older people with HIV to the list of those older people in the District who are considered to have greatest social need under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Making this small but important update to how the law is implemented in DC, ensures that LGBT elders and people living with HIV have equal access to crucial government aging services and programming.  Learn more and sign the petition here.

(9) Make your voice heard at the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs Advisory Committee Meeting.  The Office of LGBTQ Affairs works in collaboration with an Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the Mayor.  Their mission is to “address concerns of the LGBTQ community and find innovative ways of utilizing government resources to help address issues affecting LGBTQ residents of Washington, DC.” These meetings are open to the public and include time for concerned community members to make public comments.    Come to this meeting and make your voice heard!  thedccenter.org/events/lgbtq-affairs-meeting

(10) Take care of each other.   Take time to reach out to your friends who have have been impacted by violence recently, as well as friends who have experienced violence in the past and may be triggered by what is currently happening.    If you know someone who needs a person to talk to, call the DC Center during office hours to arrange an appointment with a licensed clinical social worker (202) 682-2245.  If we are at capacity we will do our best to connect you to other resources in the community.   Also, let folks know about the Queer Women Working Through Trauma group at the DC Center.  A new 8 week session starts in September.

 

 

Washington Post Op-Ed on Recent Violence

The Washington Post released an op-ed article titled, “The DC Area needs better resources to help the LGBTQ Community,” which speaks on the recent hate crimes within the DC LGBT Community. Written by Samantha Schmidt, the article highlights instances of violence and the lack of resources in the area available to help those who are vulnerable in our community.

Unsubscripted/Shorter Version of the Article 

Full-Length Article From Washington Post  

Earline Budd: Call to Action on Drug Overdoses in the LGBTQ Community

Earline Budd Call to Action

Transgender Activist and Executive Director of Empowering the Transgender Community Earline Budd released the following statement in response to recent deaths believed to be related to drug overdose in the DC LGBTQ Community.

In December 2018 I sent out a “Call To Action” regarding the spike in K2 Synthetic Drug and heroin overdoses here in the District of Columbia. On June 27th a transgender woman whom I have known and worked with for over 15 years was found dead at 7th and H Street N.W. She was homeless and had her struggles, but did not deserve to go out like this. It was said to be a suspected overdose of some type of drug that she consumed.

In the last 90 days the LBGTQ community has had several deaths believed to be related to the synthetic drugs and heroin.  This epidemic has hit home for the LBGTQ community again after the death of Diamond Colson a transgender woman age 31.

While city agencies including the police department, the Department of Human Services along with homeless shelters are said to be trying to curb this ongoing problem, it has resurfaced and again is claiming lives of those we love and work with.

Even with the creation of the city “Emergency Alert” flier with information about K2/heroin and drug addiction resources that officers and homeless advocates are now passing out, we must come together to discuss what more can be done. One life is too many, and there must also be consequences for those who are mixing up these deadly drugs killing people. While there is a
lot of funding for Opcode Overdose Prevention, there must be more done for those who are within the LBGTQ community which is a very silent conversation. “Call to Action” is now and we can’t sit by and just watch people die off. While it is not you today experiencing the loss of someone, it can be you tomorrow.

Resources

  • Seek substance use disorder treatment. Call the Assessment and Referral Center (The ARC) at 202-727-8437
  • Get connected to behavioral health services. Call the 24/7 Access HelpLine at 1-888-793-4357
  • Contact an outreach worker 202-442-4634 (DHS) or 202-673-9124 (DBH)

LGBTQ Specific Recovery Information

  • Visit the Triangle Club website to learn more about traditional twelve step programs.
  • An LGBTQ Smart Recovery Group meets weekly on Saturday Evenings at 8PM.  Find out more here.
  • For Harm Reduction information and resources, connect with www.hips.org

 

Support Memorial Services for Zoe Spears

Transgender advocate and activist Earline Budd has set up gofundme page on behalf of Zoe Spear’s family, to raise money for the memorial service and celebration of life for Zoe Spears.   Please consider donating to give Zoe a funeral that signifies “Dignity in Death”.

Earline states “My heart hurts in having to do yet another service, but my life is dedicated to giving and caring and for this reason I will complete yet one more service.  Thank you in advance.”

Earline will be responsible for final arrangements. The donations are needed now.   Please give as you can today, no donation is too small. You can donate here.

(https://www.gofundme.com/help-with-services-for-zoe-spears)

Letter from Rainbow Caucus of LGBTQ Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners

The Rainbow Caucus of LGBTQ Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners submitted a letter on June 19 the Chairman Phil Mendelson. You can read the text of the letter copied below, or view the entire letter in its original format at the following link: RainbowCaucusLetter.pdf

——

The Honorable Phil Mendelson
Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

Via E-mail

19 June 2019

Dear Chairman Mendelson:
We write as DC’s highest-ranking LGBTQ elected officials charged with ensuring the best interest of the District of Columbia as a whole. While the DC Council contains many self-
professed LGBTQ allies, we have not had true representation on the Council since Councilmembers Catania and Graham left office. The Council’s silence on hate crimes and
transgender violence, its refusal to provide even $1 in increased funding for the Office of
Human Rights and Office of LGBTQ Affairs that 15 organizations advocated for, its failure
to address anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence, and its lack of action to ensure that we
have safe and respectful housing and job opportunities for LGBTQ people of all ages – and
in particular trans women of color – deeply concerns and disgusts us.

We learned long ago that Silence = Death … and your silence and inaction is killing
members of our community or placing them in harm’s ways and hospital emergency rooms. We will not be complacent, we will not be silent, and we will hold every single
Councilmember accountable for their failures – both now and during election time.

LGBTQ people are suffering when they walk down the street, they are targets, and they are
dying from preventable causes. Recent instances include the brutal murders of Ashanti
Carmon and Zoe Spears – both transgender woman of color, the violent attack on Carl
Craven and Braden Brech outside of Nellie’s on U Street, NW, on June 16th, and three
people stabbed inside the Fireplace on P Street, NW, also on June 16th. Sadly, violence like
this is all too common in our community, and it is happening on your watch.

Furthermore, the Council continues to fail in its oversight role. There is institutional
disrespect and homophobia/transphobia throughout our District government agencies,
particularly toward transgender people. Yet you do nothing. Your silence condones this
discrimination.

Words of friendship and support no longer ring true. Both as elected officials and your
constituents, we call on you to act now. Money talks, and we need to hear a mighty roar
from the Council by securing a minimum of $5M in funding for the programs and agencies
that support our community and make us safe.

We look forward to your response and are committed to rolling up our sleeves to work
together until every last one of us can walk down the street in safety and dignity.

Kent C. Boese
Commissioner, 1A08
Chair, ANC1A

Michael Wray
Commissioner, 1A09

Jason Clock
Commissioner, 1A12

James Turner
Commissioner, 1B09
Chair,ANC1B

Robb Hudson
Commissioner, 1B11

Ted Guthrie
Commissioner, 1C03
Chair,ANC1C

Birdget Pooley
Commissioner, 1C02

Japer Bowles
Commissioner, 1C07

Matthew Sampson
Commissioner, 2B01

Randy Downs
Commissioner, 2B05

Mike Silvertein
Commissioner, 2B06

Michael. D Shankle
Commissioner, 2C01

John Fanning
Commissioner, 2F04
Chair, ANC2F

Monika Nameth
Commissioner, 3F06

Madeleine Stirling
Commissioner-elect, 2F05

Councilmember Robert White’s Statement on Violence Against the LGBTQ Community

Councilmember Robert White has released a Statement on Violence Against the LGBTQ Community. You may read the statement, copied below, which was originally released on June 21, 2019.

The recent spate of attacks against LGBTQ members of our community is part of a pattern of violence in our city and around the country, and it has to stop. We cannot and will not tolerate hate crimes such as these in the District of Columbia. No one should endure the terror of being targeted and attacked for being who they are. I want my LGBTQ neighbors to know that I see you, I hear you, I support you, and I am deeply troubled and disturbed by these attacks.

On March 30, I was saddened to hear of Ashanti Carmon’s still unsolved murder. And on June 13, I was stunned to hear that her friend, Zoe Spears, was also shot and killed just blocks away. I know the DC transgender community is reeling from these losses. Yet, even at the LGBTQ community center Casa Ruby, where they should feel safest, transgender women were recently threatened by a man with a gun.

In 2019, ten transgender women have been violently killed in the United States; all were African-American. Fatal violence against transgender women of color is a national issue and having two of these horrific deaths in our own backyard is an outrage. Transgender women experience clear anti-transgender bias, and their transgender status often puts them at risk in other ways. They experience discrimination in the workplace, when they look for housing, and even when trying to access government services. This sometimes forces them into unemployment, homelessness, or survival sex work, all of which puts them at greater risk of violence.

LGBTQ individuals continue to face discrimination and harassment in public spaces both in DC and across the country. Just a few days ago, Karl Craven and Braden Brecht were attacked on U Street by men using a homophobic slur. DC is, and should always be, a welcoming community. It is our responsibility to address and denounce all hate crimes.

We have not done enough to protect and support LGBTQ residents in the District. I plan to work with the Mayor, my colleagues on the Council of the District of Columbia, government agencies, and LGBTQ organizations and individuals to address LGBTQ access to basic needs and services such as safe housing and mental health. I will work with the rest of the Council to release a statement of no tolerance for violence against transwomen and sex workers. I also will introduce legislation to create a platform for transwomen of color to shape the policies and programs that they believe they need to improve both health and safety. And I will work with the Council to hold a roundtable with government agencies and community organizations that work with transgender women to discuss how we as a city can better serve them.

I am sending letters to Mayor Muriel Bowser and to Chairman Phil Mendelson to ask for their support and assistance in addressing these issues. We can do better to protect marginalized communities. I ask the Mayor, the Council, and the District as a whole to join me as I learn about the issues and fears LGBTQ members of our community face and to take action to improve their safety and overall well-being.

# # #

 

Meet the Staff: Maya

woman with cherry blossoms

Welcome Maya to the DC Center! She is a summer health and wellness intern and looks forward to making members of the queer community smile and feel supported. You can meet Maya at the DC Center Monday thru Friday this summer! She is a rising junior at Georgetown University, majoring in Global Health. 

Birthdate, Astro Sign

23 May, Gemini

Where are you originally from?

San Diego, CA

Why did you start working at the DC Center?

I started working at the DC Center to further my exposure to community/queer health work and give back to the LGBTQ community.

What has been your favorite part about working at the DC Center?

My favorite part has been the welcoming attitudes of my coworkers. We’re all striving to help our community thrive!

What is your music anthem?

I’ve had Hippo Campus’ “Bambi” on repeat lately.

What is your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ community?

I love how much fun we can have together. Whether it’s dancing, fashion, or poetry it all makes me feel fabulously free.

What is your favorite spot in DC and what do you do there?

I absolutely love to run on the National Mall. You can catch me there with my partner and our dog!

What is your favorite queer movie?  

Moonlight (2016)

What color would you paint the White House, given the chance?  

Green!

Who do you look up to in the queer community?

Jennifer Wiggins is a queer black icon working in Georgetown’s Health Education Services. She is constantly making herself available for queer programming & has often made me smile as well as feel safe on campus. Simply put, Jenn is a loving activist through and through.

Reproductive Justice and LGBT Liberation

Causes in Common

On December 21st, 2004 the DC Center for the LGBT Community Board of Directors voted to sign the pledge of Commitment to Causes in Common.   Causes in Common was an initiative of the LGBT Community in New York City to bring together the reproductive rights movement and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liberation movement to identify common issues and build stronger alliances. The common ground for these two movements has a long and rich history.

The DC Center was proud to join many LGBT Community Centers around the country, and other LGBT and Reproductive Justice Organizations, in committing to the following principles:

  • We affirm the right to individual autonomy in all matters related to consensual sexuality and reproduction.
  • We affirm the rights of individuals to control over their own bodies and to intimate engagement with members of their own sex as fundamental to the liberation of LGBT people.
  • We are dedicated to effecting positive social change for the purpose of eradicating all forms of homophobia in our society and for the full attainment of the right to choose to reproduce.
  • Governmental intervention in the reproductive lives of women and men limits not only their ability to make a choice about abortion; it also limits their access to safe and affordable reproductive assistance. We affirm the right of all women
    to safe and affordable abortions and the right of all people to safe and affordable reproductive technologies and assistance.
  • The conflation of immorality and sex engaged in for purposes of pleasure or outside heterosexual civil marriage lead to the creation of policies that serve to undermine our democracy, our right to privacy and our freedom to choose the direction of our reproductive and sexual lives. It also serves to weaken what should be an unbridgeable divide between church and state as mandated by the Constitution. We affirm the necessity of a secular state to the preservation of
    democratic principles.
  • We acknowledge the detrimental impact that U.S. policy has had on the reproductive and sexual freedoms of peoples throughout the world and we situate our alliance in a global context.

To learn more about this historic initiative, click below to download the full report:

Causes in Common