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A 21-Year-Old Just Survived Being Shot Twice

New reports from the police indicate the unnamed victim in a recent Philadelphia shooting identified as male.
Photo by Sean Locke, via Stocksy

UPDATE: Despite initial reports from activist groups and media outlets that the victim was a trans woman, new information indicates that they identify as male. This article has been corrected to reflect that, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Five shots were fired at an unidentified person in West Philadelphia Sunday night, the Philadelphia Police Department says. According to a PPD statement sent to Broadly and local press, the 21-year-old victim was shot twice in the hip. Police statements referred to the victim as male, but there was some initial confusion among local advocates and press as to whether or not the victim is a trans woman, as it is common for trans people to be incorrectly identified by the media and the police. In a statement to Broadly, the PPD said that the victim "identified himself as male."


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The PPD are seeking two male suspects in the Sunday shooting, one of whom reportedly has tattoos on his face. According to police, these men were inside the corner store at the same time as the man they targeted. The victim told police that he left the shop and then realized that he was being followed by the two men. A few blocks away, the victim says that the men caught up with him, one fired multiple shots, and then they ran away.

Deja Alvarez is a member of the Philadelphia Trans Leadership Council and the director of [Home for Hope](LGBTQ Home for hope ), "the first and only homeless shelter in Pennsylvania specifically for LGBTQ individuals." Alvarez spoke to Broadly earlier today after the local media had distributed information that the victim was a trans woman, something police have since refuted. "We were on it first thing this morning," said Alvarez. "It's very important that people see that we are targets of so much violence," she says, explaining why advocates are so quick to respond to these reports. Her fears at the time were rooted in an ugly reality; violence against trans people—especially women—is not uncommon in Philadelphia. "We've always seen a lot of it," Alvarez added. "It's not necessarily that we've seen a spike in [violence against trans women]; we've seen a spike in it being reported."

In the last two years, multiple trans women of color have been killed in the city. For years, advocates like Alvarez have been speaking out and working tirelessly to try and make life less dangerous for this community. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the United States has experienced a rise in hate crimes since the presidential election of Donald Trump, and Alvarez says that many transgender people living in Philadelphia are "extremely" concerned about living under Trump's rule.

Read more: How Society Let This Happen: The Transgender People Killed in 2016

"I do feel like Philadelphia is moving forward," Alvarez said hopefully, pointing to the formation of the PTLC. Transgender people experience broad disenfranchisement across social institutions, from housing to employment, and Alvarez's organization clearly shows transgender people succeeding and leading in life. "There's been progress, and there's been a push to be more supportive of us," Alvarez said.

She attributes part of Philadelphia's advancement toward transgender equality to the work of Nellie Fitzpatrick, the LGBT liaison to the mayor's office. Fitzpatrick has been a strong advocate in support of transgender people living in Philadelphia, and she provides a direct link between the trans population and city government. Fitzpatrick told Broadly that the media hastily ran with a story that was not substantiated by the victim or the police, and she underscored the importance of reporting information accurately, if not quickly.