Denver Teen Attacked for Her Gender Expression
"I don't look like a girl"
[DENVER, CO] - Denver news sources report that 17-year-old April Mora is recovering from an attack Tuesday by four men who used razor blades to carve gay slurs into her arms and abdomen. The word "dyke" was cut into Mora's forearm, and the initials "R.I.P." were cut into her abdomen.
The details of the story suggest that Mora was targeted because of her gender expression and perceived sexual orientation. "I don't look like a girl," she said. See photo
The AttackMora said the four men, all of whom she described as being about 18 years old, started to harass her as she was walking down an alley behind her house around 2pm on Tuesday, March 26, 2002. "I was looking at [their car], and they said, 'Look at that dyke.' And I guess I looked at them in the wrong way," Mora said. "[They were] calling me a dyke and [saying], 'Why were you looking at me like this?' and I was lucky that they didn't rape me."
|Read Mora's Interview with GPAC
Hate Crime LawsOnly Minnesota, California, Vermont, Missouri, and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws that include crimes motivated by gender identity or gender expressiona. Currently, 27 states include sexual orientation as a protected category in their hate-crimes statutes; however, Colorado is one of 23 states that do not.
A bipartisan effort is underway to change that. Colorado Sen. Penfield Tate (D) and Rep. Mark Larson (R) are sponsoring a bill (SB02-009) that would expand Colorado's existing hate crimes law to include sexual orientation or gender identity as well as age and disability. Current law includes only race and religion.
The proposed legislation would change the name of the crime from "ethnic intimidation" to "bias-motivated crime." It would also direct judges to consider certain sentencing options and encourage each law enforcement agency to implement written policies, procedures, and training specifically designed to address bias-motivated crimes. Tate has introduced the measure each of the last five years, and each time it has failed. Larson, who also carried the legislation last year, was the first Republican to do so.
Fighting Terrorism at HomeWith America's heightened awareness of terrorist activity, the proposed legislation could gain broader support and have its best chance of passing this year. Some of Colorado's clergy have already come out in support of the revised legislation.
"The President has strongly cast the events of Sept. 11 as an attack on our democratic way of life and Coloradans have joined in a national unity to declare that we will not allow our democracy to be threatened," said the Rev. Chuck Mowry, director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. "With the Sept. 11 events, all of us have discovered what it is to sense the reality of fear that someone, somewhere, in some manner can and may strike us."
All Coloradans regardless of age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity "deserve the best efforts of this state to declare that intimidating, harassing or targeting persons, or their property because of their personal identity takes away their right to freedom from fear," Mowry said.
NTAC Urges Legislative ActionThe National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), a political advocacy group working to establish and maintain the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people, is strongly urging passage of the new law. According to NTAC officials, the attack underscores the need for Coloradans to support measures such as SB02-009 which would provide for enhanced penalties to help deter bias-motivated crimes.
"Less than a year after the horrendous murder of F. C. Martinez in Cortez, Colorado, April Mora is attacked and brutalized because of her gender nonconformity and perceived sexual orientation," said Yoseio V. Lewis, NTAC board chair. "This attack was not only intended to harm April Mora, but to send a message to all gender variant Americans that they should live in fear of being targeted for harassment and violence." Enactment of the proposed legislation, Lewis continued, would "send a message to potential victimizers that Americans do not endorse this brand of domestic terrorism."
Representative Larson, co-sponsor of the new law, is both a resident of and a House Representative of the district covering the city of Cortez -- the location of the murder of F. C. Martinez, Jr. last June.
Related Stories:Feb 8, 2002 - Murphy Pleads Guilty to Murder of F.C. Martinez
External Sites:Mar 28, 2002 - Colorad Anti-Violence Program Condemns Assault of Lesbian Youth
Mar 29, 2002 - 17-year-old Female Reports Mutilation as Anti-gay Crime
Apr 2, 2002 - Statement from April Mora
Apr 2, 2002 - Statement from Roberta Quintana