QUEER VOICES

Who Cares About Islan Nettles?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27:  People embrace before a vigil for slain transgender woman Islan Nettles at Jackie Robinson Park in
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27: People embrace before a vigil for slain transgender woman Islan Nettles at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem on August 27, 2013 in New York City. Nettles was severely beaten two weeks ago after being approached on the street by a group of men and later died of her injuries. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The weather in Manhattan on January 30 was bitter, frigid — not the kind of day you go out into if you don’t have to, least of all to a windswept plaza in the shadow of the bunker-like headquarters of the New York City Police Department. But that afternoon, a bundled-up crowd of more than 100 people, about half of them transgender women of color, massed there for more than an hour, holding signs that read "Transgender Lives Matter And Justice For Islan Nettles". In the crowd was Janet Mock, a former People magazine editor who was about to publish her memoir, Redefining Realness, about her life as a transgender woman. She was with Melissa Sklarz and Madison St. Claire, the trans women who were advocating for trans rights in New York City years before boldfaced names like Chaz Bono, Chelsea Manning, and Laverne Cox helped thrust the issue into the spotlight.

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