On August 7, 1995, Washington DC hairdresser Tyra Hunter was heading to work when the car she was in was broadsided. The 24-year-old died soon after due to outrageous transphobia and criminal neglect by medical personnel. Her death galvanized community response to medical transphobia.
The details of the case are hard to revisit, so readers sensitive to violence against trans women of color may wish to stop reading now.
When EMT Adrian Williams began treatment on Hunter after she was pulled from the mangled car, his response was so horrible that he was later charged and convicted. Via Monica Roberts at TransGriot:
He stopped and backed away after he cut open her pants legs to reveal her genitalia, saying “This b***h ain’t no girl. It’s a n****r, he got a dick..
Williams then began joking with other DCFD personnel on the scene as the neighborhood onlookers witnessing his and his coworkers transphobic behavior pleaded with him to resume working on Hunter to save her life.
Hunter’s treatment was stopped for 5-7 critical minutes as the DCFD personnel on the scene kept cracking transphobic jokes. An EMS supervisor eventually arrived on the scene and resumed treating Hunter for her injuries.
Things got worse that the hospital, where doctors refused treatment or assumed she was HIV positive, further delaying live-saving measures. She died about an hour after arriving in the ER.
Her mother won a civil case in addition to the successful criminal prosecution. Our community continues to fight in her name. You can learn more about this hardworking American citizen whose life was needlessly cut short at Remembering Our Dead.
If you would like to help in the fight to honor Tyra’s memory, please consider supporting the Transgender Law Center or other groups that advocate for the legal and medical rights of trans people, especially trans people of color.
Tyra would have been 50 this year. Rest in power. You are not forgotten. We fight in your name each day.
Image: Remembering Our Dead