Tyra Hunter (1970 – August 7, 1995) was an African-American transgender woman who died after being injured as a passenger in a car accident and being refused emergency medical care. Emergency medical technicians at the scene of the accident uttered derogatory epithets and withdrew medical care after discovering that she was male assigned at birth, and ER staff at DC General Hospital subsequently provided dilatory and inadequate care.
On December 11, 1998, a jury awarded Hunter's mother, Margie, $2.9 million after finding the District of Columbia, through its employees in the D.C. Fire Department and doctors at D.C. General, liable under the D.C. Human Rights Act and for negligence and medical malpractice for causing Tyra's death. While $600,000 of the amount was awarded for damages attributable to violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act associated with the withdrawal of medical care at the accident scene and openly denigrating Tyra with epithets, a further $1.5 million was awarded to her mother for Tyra's conscious pain and suffering and for economic loss from the wrongful death medical malpractice claim. Doctors at D.C. General failed to diagnose and treat Tyra who died of internal bleeding in the hospital emergency room. Evidence at the trial demonstrated that had Tyra been provided with a blood transfusion and referred to a surgeon, she would have had a 90% chance of surviving.
The case against the District of Columbia was tried by Richard F. Silber. Dana Priesing, an observer at the trial, wrote that the evidence supported "the inference that a stereotype (namely that Tyra was an anonymous, drug using, transgender street person) affected the treatment Tyra received," and that the "ER staff, as evidenced by their actions, did not consider her life worth saving." The trial itself included a great deal of "unlikely testimony and missing evidence." Adrian Williams, one of the EMTs who had neglected to treat Hunter, testified that he assumed she was a man on sight, "failing to notice that she had breasts, make-up, women's clothing, a woman's hairstyle, and white nail polish." One D.C. General employee, after being subpoenaed, left for Africa and did not return until late December 1998. In the end, none of the EMTs involved were ever disciplined.
Tyra had transitioned at the age of 14 and lived entirely as a woman. Over 2,000 people attended her funeral.
T.Y.R.A. (Transgender Youth Resources and Advocacy), a program of the Illinois Gender Advocates and Howard Brown Health Center, is a Chicago area transgender youth initiative named in the memory of Tyra Hunter.
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