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Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Aug. 3, 2000
issue of Workers World newspaper

Memorial held for slain trans woman

By Deirdre (Al Dente) Sinnott

New York

Amanda Milan, a well-known and beloved African American trans woman, was stabbed to death at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York on June 20. Her friends said she was stabbed by a person who had first verbally harassed her. Milan was just 25 years old.

On July 23, several hundred friends, family and community members gathered to remember, mourn and organize around Milan's tragic death. A memorial meeting was held at the lesbian/gay/bi/ trans Metropolitan Community Church. A march in Milan's honor followed.

Silvia Rivera, a Stonewall uprising veteran, said, "Our community is rising to fight our oppression. I have been fighting for 31 years. Transgender people must be included in any hate crimes legislation."

In June, New York State finally enacted a hate crimes law. It includes penalties for crimes against lesbian and gay people. But it doesn't include transgender people.

Even though the capitalist state will never legislate equality and laws that strengthen the state are used in racist, anti-worker ways, many people in the community feel it's important that trans people not be excluded from the law.

Ultimately Amanda Milan was killed for attempting to be herself in a society where there is little tolerance for sex and gender variations.

Historical evidence reveals that transsexual, transgender and intersexual people lived in small cooperative communities for thousands of years before the division of society into haves and have-nots. They enjoyed the respect of their communities.

But these were societies based on sharing the fruits of communal labor in which each member's contributions were vital and therefore appreciated.

Amanda Milan is a victim of a different historical period. Under capitalism, a tiny handful of families own the vast system of production that has been built through the collective labor of the working class. Ideology that whips up bigotry plays an important role in maintaining such an unjust and unequal economy. It disarms and weakens the potential unity of the giant laboring class.

One of Amanda's friends, poet/artist Ráás Náshanté, said, "I don't apologize for my existence. We live in a society that lacks knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you want to know more about me check your library."

Several groups helped to organize the memorial and march, including African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change, Anti-Violence Project, Metro Gender Network, Positive Health Project, Queers for Racial & Economic Justice, Stonewall Riot Veterans, Audre Lorde Project and others.

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