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Trans Man in Wheelchair Shot Five Times with Pellet Gun in Pontiac

Victim was also subjected to violent slurs

Jason A. Michael

Andrew Blake-Newton, a trans man, was assaulted and called anti-queer slurs just after midnight on Saturday, July 15 as he made a trip to pick up a few groceries from the gas station two blocks from his home in Pontiac. Blake-Newton, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a motorized wheelchair, said that a person in a small, beige 4-door sedan stopped his car and shot him five times with a pellet gun. While committing the awful attack, Blake-Newton said the person laughed and then proceeded to assault him verbally.

“They drove away shouting ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot’ and laughed after they shot me,” Blake-Newton said in a Facebook post about the incident.

Blake-Newton told Medium writer James Finn that his practice was to only go out at night. Blake-Newton’s disability makes him ineligible for top surgery — aka breast removal — so transphobic neighbors who found his Facebook profile now call him “the bearded lady.”

The attack, he told Finn, was completely unprovoked, as well as incredibly hurtful, both physically and emotionally. The assailant fired on Blake-Newton “filling my legs, arm and side with small metal bullets,” he said in a Facebook post. Severely injured, Blake-Newton called his husband, who called an ambulance.

Once at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Blake-Newton posted on Facebook that he received substandard care. “They got the pellets out, caused me severe pain by taking their sweet time doing X-rays while I sobbed on the metal table trapped on my back,” he said.

In the post, Blake-Newton added that wound dressings applied by the hospital all came off in less than 15 minutes. He also accused hospital workers of refusing to provide him with “anti-infection and wound care supplies” and leaving him stranded at the hospital as his wheelchair would not fit in a standard ambulance.

“The transphobic violence experienced by Andrew Blake-Newton is unacceptable and another awful example of the growing reality of hostility and brutality that transgender people live with on a daily basis,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter told Pride Source. “Hateful rhetoric and violence can never be normalized and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Everyone has the right to be safe in our communities and wherever we gather.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $1,000 reward for credible information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the crime.

“A hateful, despicable criminal act to shoot somebody for whatever reason in a torturous manner, obviously not intended to kill someone when it’s a pellet gun,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told Fox 2. “[But] it breaks down their feeling of safety and security and is a taunting hateful kind of thing to do.”

“Our hearts go out to Andrew Blake-Newton, his family, and all trans folks,” Transcend the Binary Executive Director Brayden Misiolek told Pride Source. “Dehumanizing behaviors are intolerable for anyone, but we know from our research and personal experiences this is especially problematic for the trans and non-binary community.” 

Misiolek said his thoughts were with Blake-Newton.

“We encourage anyone who has information to come forward, and we hope Andrew is able to find the support he deserves to be able to go about normal, day-to-day activities without worry that someone may try to harm or humiliate him,” Misiolek said. “Transcend will not stop working until we fundamentally improve the overall well-being of our community. We deserve better.”

Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott expressed outrage at the incident.

“The multiple shots fired at Blake-Newton is yet another testament to the dire need for increased advocacy for the safety of all trans people in Michigan,” Knott told Pride Source. “This shooting comes at a time of unchecked, blatant, hateful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, which is fueling violence against our community. Enough is enough.”

Blake-Newton said in his post that he is traumatized but felt the need to speak out.

“No trans person should have to fear leaving their home,” he wrote. “My hope is that my story will spread and that one trans voice, one trans experience will encourage other trans voices to join until we finally become loud enough to be heard and that real change will be made.”

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