Discrimination and violence against gender non-conforming people of color is still an everyday occurrence in the United States. In October 2011, a disabled African American lesbian, Yvonne McNeal, was part of a verbal dispute with her partner outside the homeless shelter in New York City where they both resided. When the police discovered that Yvonne had a knife they opened fire and killed her although her knife had not been used. The police did not respond to questions afterward to explain why they did not use non-lethal weapons, as no one was in imminent danger. In response to the murder, Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) requested funds to “turn this tragedy into a time of organizing and resistance.” They plan to hold a candlelight vigil at the shelter to honor Yvonne’s memory and invite residents from other shelters in the city to attend to create solidarity between often isolated shelter residents. QEJ also plans to conduct “Know Your Rights” trainings for shelter residents and anti-violence trainings for the staff, and continue working with the Coalition for the Homeless to ensure that the District Attorney’s office conducts a thorough investigation of Yvonne’s murder.
QEJ is a progressive organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of gender and sexual liberation.