LGBTQ community rallies around trans teen who was viciously beaten: 'You are being thought of with Love and Light'

Kamilah Newton
·6 mins read
A demonstrator at a New York City protest in July prompted by the epidemic of Black transgender murders around the country. (Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)
A demonstrator at a New York City protest in July prompted by the epidemic of Black transgender murders around the country. (Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Eurydice Darrington is asking the world to show her son, 18-year-old Kristian Rouse, a little love as he recovers from a transphobic attack after which he was left for dead.

After not hearing from Rouse for days back in mid-May, according to KGET TV, Darrington and her son’s ex-girlfriend went looking for him at his apartment in Bakersfield, Calif. When nobody answered the door, and police came to the scene but were unhelpful, she begged the apartment complex’s staff to let her in. “My child was laying on the floor. He could barely speak, barely breathe. He had marks around his neck, his face was swollen, he had bruises on his torso and his back, and his shirt was off,” she recounted. “He’s transgender, and that is not a nice thing to do.”

The violent attack left Rouse intubated in the ICU for almost a month, having to undergo multiple surgeries and with no memory of what had happened to him. He finally went home to his mother’s on July 31, and while the teen has just recently regained his ability to speak, he is still unable to walk.

“Kristian’s mood is all over the place and he gets pretty depressed,” Darrington told LGBTQ Nation, explaining that the assault “happened at the end of his senior year and he missed his graduation because he was in the hospital.”

However, as Darrington has been speaking out about the alleged hate crime and Rouse’s long recovery, she’s also been asking for support, including on a GoFundMe page set up for medical expenses — and people have been stepping up. “The LGBTQ community has been amazing,” she said, sharing the many kind gestures they’ve received — from financial support and free therapy to various social media shout-outs from community members and organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, which tweeted, “His attack will not define him.”

When community organizer Kelly McKinsey, of Free Mom Hugs, heard that the assault had happened in her hometown, she told LGBTQ Nation, “I felt like I had a network I could reach out to, to do something for them” in hopes of lifting Rouse’s spirits. On the GoFundMe page, Darrington asked supporters to “send positive energy and love for him” and herself, saying that her heart had been “shattered in a million pieces.” McKinsey has since set up a P.O. box so people can send Rouse and his mother cards and notes of encouragement.

Darrington said the road to recovery for Rouse has been difficult, and that doctors have told them “it will probably take two years to get complete use of his right arm and leg.” Still, in the realm of attacks on transgender people, particularly those of color, Rouse was lucky to have survived.

As of early July, the Human Rights Campaign had counted 21 reported homicides of transgender folks this year — already nearly matching 2019’s full-year total of 27. The organization has said that, since its tracking began in 2013, it’s “never seen such a high number” so early in the year. As of now, “2020 has already seen at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means,” causing some to call it an “epidemic.”

Earlier this week, a Black trans woman in Philadelphia spoke out about being viciously beaten in front of her own home after asking people outside to quiet down. “They called me a ‘tranny,’ they said, ‘You’re a man, we’re gonna get you.’ And they were repeating this all throughout the beating, said that I deserved it,” 34-year-old Kendall Stephens told ABC7 News. She added that she continues to lose sleep because she is “in fear of my life,” as the attackers had threatened to come back and kill her.

“I was grateful that Kendall was alive, but I am angry that this happened,” Deja Alvarez of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Police Liaison Committee told the reporter. “I am also angry at some of the ways it was handled. There will be an example made that it is not going to be open season on trans people.”

As acts of hate and violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people continue to disproportionately affect those who are Black — who live at a dangerous crossroads of racism and transphobia and often a lack of access to basic resources — Elle Hearns, the founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, continues to fight for justice.

“I think the beautiful thing about the resilience of Black trans people is that, even in the midst of horrible things, we still figure out ways to survive. This is the reason why we organize and have a movement, to really let our people know that they’re not alone,” Hearns tells Yahoo Life.

She adds, “Without the community’s efforts to rally around Kristian, we wouldn’t have access to be able to support him at all. This is a young man like many young Black trans people who need our support, who need our encouragement, and we need to invest our resources into him in the same ways that we invest our resources into the overall community that constantly remains vulnerable to a lack of justice, but also vulnerable to a lack of protection from the government and from the communities that we live in.”

And “God bless his mother,” Hearns says, “for advocating for him and reaching out to community to support him, and being completely affirming of what his human rights are — and in demanding that human decency be considered as it related to the horrible crime that was committed against him.”

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