Murder of Amanda Milan

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The murder of Amanda Milan took place on June 20, 2000 when two men killed Milan, a 25-year-old trans woman in the street near the New York City bus terminal. The case caused an outspoken revolt on the transgender community, being remembered in many public demonstrations, and being the subject of publications in the field.


At 4 a.m. on June 20, Milan was walking to catch a cab after leaving a group of friends at the bus terminal when, according to witnesses, a man, later identified as Dwayne McCuller, walked up to her and began to harass and threaten her.[1] Milan stood up to him and asked him if he wanted to fight. According to police reports, he threatened to shoot and punch her.[2] Witnesses said he declined.[1] As he walked away, another young man, Eugene Celestine, told McCuller that he had a knife. McCuller grabbed it, and stabbed her in the neck.[2] A man named David Anderson allegedly helped McCuller escape from the scene.[1][3]

A passerby attempted to stop the bleeding and an ambulance arrived to take Milan to the hospital; however, despite their attempts, she died in less than an hour at St. Vincent's Hospital.[1]


The murder took place days before the annual LGBT pride parade.[4] Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera worked towards seeing that Milan's death was investigated and organized Milan's political funeral along with other demonstrations claiming a disconnection of transgender rights from the larger LGBT communities.[4] According to queer activist and author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore "Milan came to symbolize the unfinished business of a LGBT movement that had all too often, 'left transgender people in the back of the bus.'"[4] Because of Milan's murder Rivera reformed a transgender activist group, Street Trans Activist Revolutionaries (STAR).[5] Rivera cited the crime amongst the reasons to add a broad definition of gender to the New York City Human Rights Law.[6]

Long-time trans activist Melissa Schlarz explained that since the mid-1970s, she had read about transwomen being murdered in Times Square - "what makes the Milan case significant is that until Amanda Milan no one responded."[5] Schlarz said that usually the newspapers were "dropping hints of transpanic" ambiguously.[5] Schlarz concluded that "Milan has become not a martyr, but a rallying cry. The activism around her death showed the world transgender people belong in the queer community - the message from activists is that there is no difference between Matthew Shephard and Amanda Milan. The response to her death tells the non-queer community: enough, today the violence stops."[5]

According to Benjamin Heim Shepard in Amanda Milan and The Rebirth of Street Trans Activist Revolutionaries the case and the resulting media attention helped "galvanize the transgender community and instigated change".[1][5]

The poet & artist Christian Ortega knew Amanda Milan well and was devastated at her loss. Christian has said "Our lives were going in the same direction for a long while, but eventually we went down different roads." He dedicated his 2nd book I Know What You Did In The 80's to her memory.


McCuller was indicted for Murder in the Second Degree and Anderson was indicted for hindering prosecution in the first degree.[3] He subsequently plead guilty and was sentenced to seventeen and a half years to life in prison.[7]

Celestine has been indicted for one count each of criminally negligent homicide, criminal facilitation in the fourth degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Siegal, Nina (2001-06-20). "The Crying Game". Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  2. ^ a b Segal, Nina (2000-07-24). "Watershed of Mourning At the Border of Gender". New York Regional. The New York Times on the Web. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  3. ^ a b c "District Attorney - New York County" (Press release). New York County District Attorney's Office. 2000-12-22. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  4. ^ a b c Sycamore, Matt Bernstein (2004). That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Soft Skull Press. pp. 101–2. ISBN 9781932360561. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Shepard, Benjamin Heim (2002). "Amanda Milan and The Rebirth of Street Trans Activist Revolutionaries". From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization. Verso. pp. 156–163. ISBN 1-85984-356-5. 
  6. ^ Currah, Paisley; Richard M. Juang; Shannon Minter (2006). Transgender Rights. U of Minnesota Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780816643127. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  7. ^ Gregorian, Dareh (2002-11-09). "BX. MAN GUILTY IN SLAYING OF TRANSSEXUAL". New York Post. p. 014.