Crime | New York | News | Transgender

NYC Transgender Woman Dies After Being Beaten Brain-Dead in Homophobic Attack

Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman was taken off life support Thursday at Harlem hospital following a weekend attack police are investigating as a hate crime, DNA Info reports:

NettlesNettles was out with several other transgender women at 11 p.m. Saturday when she ran across a group of men near West 148th Street and Eighth Avenue, police said. When the man realized that Nettles and her friends were transgender, they began throwing punches and yelling homophobic slurs, cops said.

Nettles, who also went by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was taken to Harlem Hospital, but could not be revived, cops said.

A 20-year-old man, whose identity was not immediately released, was arrested in connection with the attack, police said. He was initially charged with misdemeanor assault, but cops said they expected to upgrade the charges on Friday.

Nettles was a fashion design student, according to her LinkedIn page.

This week, Towleroad reported on the attack in Long Island City of a straight, interracial couple who had just left a gay bar with a friend. And last week a gay couple was brutally beaten in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood.

We also reported that currently 68 anti-gay bias attacks have been reported in NYC this year, a number that is already well beyond last year's total of 54.

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  1. Trans people, especially our young people of color, are the one TBGL group that suffers the greatest relative harassment, discrimination and violence.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Aug 23, 2013 7:57:17 AM

  2. RIP Ms Nettles

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Aug 23, 2013 7:58:16 AM

  3. How could the perpetrator have been charged initially with a misdemeanor? If the attack was bad enough to put her in the hospital in critical condition, surely it merited a tougher charge from the onset?

    Posted by: Brian1 | Aug 23, 2013 8:17:34 AM

  4. What the hell is going on in New York?

    Posted by: yuninv | Aug 23, 2013 8:17:34 AM

  5. This is so sad. She was a beautiful young girl, may she rest in peace and I hope her death is not in vain but will bring justice to her and protection to others in the future.

    Posted by: Jeff | Aug 23, 2013 8:24:58 AM

  6. West 148th and 8th? You mean Frederick Douglass Boulevard? Harlem for non-NYC folks. Amazing stuff like this can happen in places that have a relatively high police presence.

    Think twice about living in 'gentrifying' formerly 'ghetto' neighborhoods, or near any housing project. Manhattan's problem is housing projects are all over the map, even in 'good' neighborhoods.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 23, 2013 9:14:18 AM

  7. Arm yourselves you stupid queens. Who cares about this more than we do?

    Posted by: Hagatha | Aug 23, 2013 9:15:08 AM

  8. That dude is pretty. He shouldn't have been killed, whether he was ugly or pretty. There is no moral reason for guys to kill other guys just because the first set was fooled into thinking the second set was female. It's a sad story.

    @Hagatha, what if being armed goes against the stereotype of 'being female' as being weak and helpless? To feel more like a woman, you have to feel less empowered in everything except eye shadow and tuck maintenance? I don't know.

    Posted by: Zeta | Aug 23, 2013 9:43:48 AM

  9. @get lost ZETA, your pronouns are all wrong. Maybe a tad respect for the dead? Too much to ask?

    Posted by: Fenrox | Aug 23, 2013 10:01:44 AM

  10. She wasn't a dude, Zeta.

    Another horrendous tragedy in New York City. RIP Islan Nettles and my heart goes out to her friends and family. New York City has a homophobic/transphobic problem. Time to really address it, once and for all.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Aug 23, 2013 10:09:15 AM

  11. This is horrible and senseless loss of life. People don't seem to be capable to distinguish trans from gays, and much less understand either of them. We don't help the situation when we group trans and gays and confuse transphobic attacks for homophobic ones. If we don't have clarity, how can we solicit it from others?

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 23, 2013 11:35:34 AM

  12. @rafael Really? You are using her death to push an anti-trans idea? What the hell is wrong with you.

    Posted by: Bryce Ageno | Aug 23, 2013 11:54:02 AM

  13. @Bryce Ageno

    How the hell is my statement an anti trans idea? Please explain.

    Posted by: Rafael | Aug 23, 2013 12:02:05 PM

  14. @Ratbastard - you are spot on. I live in the South End of Boston, which overall is nice place and gay friendly. But unfortunately there are housing projects littered throughout the neighborhood. Whenever there's violence, murder, assaults, robberies - 99% of the time, it's traced back to the projects. Be aware of your surroundings and take precaution!

    Posted by: Chang | Aug 23, 2013 2:11:56 PM

  15. "West 148th Street", "A 20-year-old man, whose identity was not immediately released."

    Translation for those living in reality: a young black guy from Harlem. (Shocker).

    Posted by: NYCer | Aug 23, 2013 2:14:15 PM

  16. The death penalty is the only just verdict in this case.

    Posted by: Queer Supremacist | Aug 23, 2013 3:27:03 PM

  17. @"Translation for those living in reality: a young black guy from Harlem. (Shocker)."

    Nobody thought that there was any deception going on except you.

    And oh, honey, you couldn't imagine what slurs I have for you.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 23, 2013 5:28:31 PM

  18. Don't we bash back any more?

    It needs to be dangerous to attack us.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 23, 2013 5:37:57 PM

  19. Many of the comments here are so racist and classist. I live in Harlem (as do many queer, hetero, rich, poor, black, brown, asian, trans people), near the 'projects' (which by the way have historically been a good thing for the poor in NYC). Did everyone miss the part where numerous attacks have also happened in the West Village, Chelsea and MSG? Really, no part in NYC is completely safe for queers, even today in 2013.

    Posted by: HS | Aug 23, 2013 5:45:20 PM

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