(Examiner.com) A 21-year-old transgender woman who went by the name of Tyli’a Mack was stabbed to death in DC on August 26th, 2009. Tyli’a and a second transgender victim were found by police at 2:30 p.m. about two blocks away from the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment (T.H.E.), a social services organization that offers drop-in services to transgender people. Mack was pronounced dead at the Howard University Hospital approximately 30 minutes after being found. The second victim was also taken to a hospital. She was in stable condition and expected to recover.
The police are currently investigating the death as a possible hate crime and are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Mack’s death.
People were saddened and angered across the country when hearing about the tragic incident in DC. One Struggle, One Fight organized a candlelight vigil in San Francisco, and members of the local LGBTQ community congregated at 18th & Castro on Saturday evening in rememberance of the life of Tyli’a Mack.
“I am sick of feeling angry, heartbroken, and alone every time a member of the LGBTQ community is murdered or attacked,” said David McElhatton, a 20 year-old trans man in the Bay Area who helped organize the vigil. “I have also been disgusted by the lack of response from the community, despite the fact that violence against us has escalated sharply in the last year, and that each of these instances leaves the community, as a whole, traumatized”.
Approximately 30-40 people attended the vigil in San Francisco, and when the numbers and emotions seemed too big to contain on a streetcorner, the group occupied the intersection. Many participants were in tears as the group chanted in unison, demanding justice for Mack and an end to transphobia. Towards the end of the event, Sister MaeJoy B. WithU called for a moment of silence, and the sidewalk was eventually lined with candles and photos.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 11 years since Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die on a fence because he was gay. His murder and trail brought anti-gay hate crimes front and center as people across the country spoke out to demanded an amendment to the U.S. hate crime legislation on a Federal level. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, failed numerous times throughout the past decade to be voted into law. It was recently reintroduced to the Senate and sponsored by the late Senator Kennedy. The Matthew Shepard Act finally passed the Senate on July 23, 2009 after it was adopted as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. It is now waiting for the Senate and House of Representatives to work out the differences since the House version of the defense bill did not include the hate crimes legislation.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that, “more than 77,000 hate crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or ‘nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade.'” The brutal murder of Tyli’a Mack and stabbing of her friend adds two more numbers to the long list of hate crimes, and another day goes by without full protection for the LGBT community.