A transgender male wheelchair user was shot five times with a pellet gun during an anti-LGBTQ+ assault. He’s now sharing his story to highlight both the attack and the poor hospital care he allegedly received afterward. He also hopes to encourage other trans people to speak out about their own experiences.
Around midnight on Saturday, July 15, Andrew Jonathan Blake-Newton of Pontiac, Michigan rode in his power wheelchair to get groceries at a store about two blocks away from his home. During his trip, a person in a small beige 4-door car began shooting him and then drove away while laughing and calling him a “tra**y fa**ot.”
Several bones in his face were fractured in the attack.
The pellets were embedded in his right wrist, right side, right leg, and left leg, with blood leaking out from each small wound. Blake-Newton — who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair full-time — immediately contacted his husband, who called an ambulance.
But Blake-Newton said the care staff at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital provided inadequate 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 stated in a public Facebook video.
He worried that the puncture wounds could become seriously infected but said the hospital staff’s wound dressings all came off in under 15 minutes after they were applied. He also said that hospital workers refused to provide “anti-infection and wound care supplies,” and he had no way to get home since the ambulance had no space to accommodate his wheelchair.
Though he notified the police, he didn’t get a plate number and couldn’t describe the assailant since he has facial blindness, so he’s doubtful that anything will be done.
The Human Rights Campaign, which tracks each year’s anti-trans murders, has said that transphobic assaults have increased over the past few years as conservatives have increasingly accused trans, queer, and allied individuals of “grooming,” “sexualizing,” and “mutilating” children. The true number of anti-trans assaults in the U.S. is difficult to quantify since some police and media reports don’t record trans survivors’ gender identities, and some trans survivors don’t report attacks for fear of police mistreatment.
Nonetheless, Blake-Newton wrote, “No trans person should have to fear leaving their home… 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.”