LONG BEACH – On the night of April 15, Colle Carpenter was shoved into a bathroom stall, his shirt pulled over his head and the word “it” carved into his chest.
The attack occurred on the campus of Cal State Long Beach where Carpenter is a transgender graduate student.
The attacker remains at large.
On Friday, April 30, several students gathered on campus for an anti-hate rally.
Carpenter used a cane to walk to the podium and addressed the crowd.
“For those of you who don’t know why ‘it’ is such a derogatory term, it takes away a person’s humanity. It takes away their personhood. It makes them less than human,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter also said that his attacker knew him by name and that he has been afraid to return to campus.
“Know that what happened to me didn’t just happen to me. It happened to the entire community. Those of use who are visibly queer, those of us who are out and about being queer are scared,” he told the crowd.
Carpenter “is also the casualty of a society that continues to teach it is permissible to harass and violently abuse people who do not conform to traditional gender norms and stereotypes,” said Lorri L. Jean, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO.
Jean spoke of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and noted that although it was a historic step forward, laws are not enough.
“We call on school districts and administrators to put policies in place that require swift action protecting students when they are threatened and bullied,” Jean said.
“We call on religious leaders to speak from the pulpit about the moral duty of their congregations to stand united against bigotry of any kind. We call on political leaders to speak out against discrimination and make it clear that all people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she saidd. “And we call on fair-minded people everywhere to speak out against the hatred in people’s hearts and minds that fuels a crime like that committed against Colle Carpenter.”
Police and campus officials were initially criticized for the way they handled the ongoing investigation and for not initially notifying the student body. However, Carpenter assured the crowd that their initial concern was with his safety and asked the public to focus on helping to identify the suspect.
Anyone with any information should contact the Long Beach Police Department at (562) 985-4101.