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UPDATE: Vigil Held to Mourn Death of Transgender Woman in D.C. Draws Support From Community and National Organizations

The vigil held at the site of Tyli’a “NaNa Boo” Mack’s death last Friday evening in Washington, D.C. brought family, friends, activists, and allies together to mourn the loss of a well-known member of D.C.’s transgender community as well as to denounce the ongoing violence against transgender people, particularly transgender people of color, across the nation.

As we reported in our blog on Friday, NaNa Boo and her friend, another transgender woman, were attacked and stabbed on the 200 block of Q Street, in Northwest Washington, D.C last Wednesday, August 26th.  The surviving victim has recovered from her critical condition and is now preparing to appear before a grand jury to relate the events of the attack.

Pam’s House Blend posted a brief video depicting the scene at the vigil, where many mourners gathered despite the rainy weather.  The same posting contains a handful of poignant Tweets from attendees of the vigil, organized by Transgender Health Empowerment, the transgender services organization where NaNa Boo is thought to have been taking her friend when the two were attacked walking down the sidewalk

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality tweeted from the vigil, “The rain here does not feel cleansing today.  Just sad.”

Allyson Robinson, Associate Director of Diversity with the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted the following comment from NaNa Boo’s mother, Beverly, during the proceedings:

I did not know my baby was so loved by you all.  Thank you so much.

NewsChannel8 / ABC7 covered reactions from family, friends and representatives of Transgender Health Empowerment.

Organizations across the country issued condolences, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, following official statements made by T.H.E. as well as the DC Trans Coalition (covered in our previous blog).

Matt Kailey, of the Examiner.com, wrote:

Trans women, and especially trans women of color, are particularly vulnerable to this type of violent attack. The Colorado Anti-Violence Program has informed me that one thing concerned citizens can do in these situations is to hold the media accountable for reporting this violence and for using correct names and pronouns in their reporting.

While overall NewsChannel8  provided fair and accurate coverage of the aftermath of NaNa Boo’s slaying, their reports contained repeated references to “transgenders.”  Previous news coverage from other sources has referred to the incident as a stabbing of “transgender men” and persisted in referring to the victim by her given name.  GLAAD is continuing to reach out to these media outlets to provide them with resources, including our Transgender Terminology Guide, to improve future reporting surrounding transgender-related news.

The latest reports indicate that the Metropolitan Police Department has still not confirmed their intent to investigate the stabbings as a hate crime, though they have acknowledged it as a possibility.  So far, however, the evidence seems to point strongly toward that conclusion.

According to NewsChannel 8:

Patria Dickerson, Mack's best friend, says Nana Boo did not take verbal abuse on the street silently. "Me and her [were] together an hour before she got murdered. She's outspoken and she's not going to let anybody say what they want to say to her," she said.

The transgender community center says it's providing grief counselors. "They're hurt. They're shocked -- can't believe this happened to Nana Boo," said Anthony Hall of the Transgender Help Empowerment Center.

GLAAD is in contact with T.H.E. and is following the story closely to keep you updated with the latest information regarding the case.

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