Trans Woman’s Killer Dodges a Hate Crime

Delores Nettles, the mother of Islan Nettles, holds up her daughter’s picture. Photo via Facebook

Islan Nettles, 21, was walking home in Harlem in 2013 when she ran into James Dixon. Dixon began flirting with her, but once he realized she was transgender, he pushed Nettles, she pushed back, and he punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground, causing a brain injury that later killed her.

But while Dixon was charged with first and second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault, he dodged a hate crime, thanks to the “gay and trans panic defense,” which sums the defendant’s actions up to be a result of the victim’s gender or sexual orientation, according to VICE News.

“Lawmakers have to understand that this is a defense that devalues the lives of LGBTQ+ people,” Director of Development for the National LGBT Bar Association Seth Rosen told VICE.

On June 19, New York legislators voted to ban the panic defense, making it the sixth state to do so.