Victory in Tyra Hunter CaseStatement by GLAA President Rick Rosendall
Friday, December 11, 1998, 5:00 p.m.
[Note: Transgendered citizen Tyra Hunter died in August 1995 after being injured in an automobile accident. As she lay injured in the street, a D.C. emergency medical services officer withdrew care for several minutes and directed slurs and laughter at her when he discovered Tyra's male genitalia. Tyra died later that evening in the emergency room at D.C. General Hospital. Tyra's mother, Margie Hunter, assisted by attorney Rick Silber, won her lawsuit against the city today after struggling more than three years for justice for Tyra.]
Late this afternoon, the jury in Margie Hunter's lawsuit against the city returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on about half a dozen counts, awarding her a total of $2,874,060. [I got the news from a News Channel 8 producer who called me, and from Lou Chibbaro of the Blade outside the court house.] The one count where the jury deemed there was insufficient evidence was in identifying Adrian Williams as the guilty EMS provider; yet they did agree that the slurs and actions alleged were in fact said and done by an unspecified member of the city's EMS staff.
This is a victory not only for Mrs. Hunter and the entire GLBT community, but for the DC Human Rights Law, which is reaffirmed as more than a paper tiger. I am grateful for this demonstration of the decency and common sense of the ordinary District citizens who formed the jury, and who saw through (among other insulting arguments) the city's claim that as a transgendered person Tyra was used to being called names -- which says, in effect, that if you are the object of enough prejudice that you are likely to need recourse to the Human Rights Law, it doesn't apply to you. Based on my own past experience as a grand juror and petit juror, I didn't think a DC jury would buy that for a moment, and thank goodness they didn't.
Margie Hunter deserves great thanks and praise for her courage and steadfastness in seeing this through. It was a privilege to congratulate Mrs. Hunter and her attorney, Rick Silber, in front of the court house as the sun was setting -- and to share hugs with transgendered activists Dee Curry, Earlene Budd, and Jessica Xavier.
Those of you who want to help us see that this victory sticks, might want to send a letter to Judge John Ferren, the DC Corporation Counsel, urging him not to appeal the decision. His address is:
Judge John M. Ferren
Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 1060
Washington, D.C. 20001
Thanks, and have a wonderful holiday season. This news sure helps! Somewhere, Tyra's spirit is resting more peacefully now.
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
- GLOV Report Targets DC Fire Chief (8/28/96)
- Text of report: Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department (8/28/96)
- Learning the Lessons of the Tyra Hunter Case (from GLAA's Agenda: 1996)
- Agenda: 1997
- Gays denounce govt. action in Tyra Hunter case (1/27/98)
- Corp. Counsel withdraws assault on Human Rights Law (1/30/98)
- DC govt. withdraws First Amendment argument in Tyra Hunter case (2/6/98)
- GLAA describes efforts with Corporation Counsel
(2/13/98) (letter to The Washington Blade)
- Discrimination by Emergency Caregivers (from GLAA's Agenda: 1998)
- Training Handout on Transgendered Persons [for police, etc.] (March 1998)