Friday, October 05, 2007

Mother Speaks Out For Wounded Trans Child

TransGriot Note: Not having transgender protections codified in federal law leads to a climate in which thugs repeatedly do this type of crap to transpeople because they feel they can get away with it.
Mother speaks out on behalf of wounded trans child

By Timothy Cwiek
PGN Writer-at-Large
© 2007 Philadelphia Gay News

As a young transgender woman clings to life with a bullet in her head, her mother is speaking out about violence against the trans community.

"I'm speaking out for Tiara, and for her community," said Arlene Coleman-Powell, mother of Tiara Coleman, a trans woman who was shot in the head inside her Frankford apartment Sept. 22.

Coleman, 25, remains comatose, in critical but stable condition, at Hahnemann University Hospital, unable to tell investigators what happened. She also was stabbed repeatedly about the head and face, her mother said.

"I want everyone to know about this brutal attack," Coleman-Powell said. "People don't understand the hard life that trans people have. I'm learning more about this every day."

Coleman-Powell expressed hope that other parents of transgenders will avoid the anguish she's enduring.

She heard of the incident at about 7 a.m. Sept. 22, when a friend notified her that her child had been taken to the hospital as a gunshot victim.

"The first week, I was just in a daze," she said. "I was totally lost."

Police said they don't have a suspect. "There are no arrests and the job is still under investigation," said Officer Raul Malveiro, a police spokesperson.

A resident of the Olney section, Coleman-Powell rented a hotel room near Hahnemann so that she could be closer to her child.

She said Coleman cannot speak, but she recently made a movement to acknowledge her mother's presence.

"I got some acknowledgment that she knew I was there," the parent noted.

Coleman spent most of her youth in Virginia, but returned to Philadelphia as a teenager and attended Strawberry Mansion Junior High and Northeast High, her mother said.

She became a talented hairstylist, who always brought joy to her mother.

"She was always saying things to make me laugh. When I would come home from work, tired, she was so good to me. She'd do things to make me feel better."

Jaci Adams, an advocate for Coleman, hopes the victim will regain consciousness soon. "My hope is that she can recover in some capacity to tell us what happened," Adams said.

Coleman-Powell plans to continuously prod detectives until the case is solved.

"I will not let this drop," she said. "You have to get involved. You can't sit back and wait for someone else to do everything."

In addition to regular visits from her mother, Coleman frequently receives visits from her older sister, Tara, and members of her large extended family, including nine aunts and uncles, her mother said.

The assault has been life-altering, not only for Coleman, but for her mother.

"My life will be forever changed because of this," she said. "I'm going to take care of my child forever."

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