Metro Weekly

Man arrested for transgender beating in Southwest D.C. held without bond

Fundraising page has been set up to help the victim cover her medical and living expenses

A transgender victim is presented with the first installment from a fundraising page set up to help her after being beaten repeatedly with a metal bat – Photo: Jess Raven, courtesy of CASS

A 23-year-old man who was arrested for beating a transgender woman in Southwest D.C. with a baseball bat has been held without bond as he awaits a detention hearing.

Tracy Vandyke, of Southwest D.C., was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Department on July 4 in the 200 block of N Street SW. He has been charged with simple assault for allegedly beating Desiree Copeland with a metal bat on July 2 in the 1200 block of Half Street SW.

According to a police incident report, Copeland claims she was hit by a roman candle that Vandyke was shooting off shortly after 8 p.m. on the night in question. When she asked him to stop, he continued shooting the roman candles. She eventually was able to ditch him, but later crossed paths with him as he attempted to continue shooting roman candles at her.

When Copeland subsequently approached him to defend herself, he first ran away. But when she turned her back, Vandyke reportedly charged at her and struck her multiple times with a metal bat, knocking her to the ground where he subsequently kicked her.

Copeland alleges that she was beaten by a much larger group of 8-10 individuals, including several juveniles, during the altercation. She was later treated with stitches for her injuries.

Following his July 12 detention hearing, Vandyke is next scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, July 27 for a status hearing. He has also been ordered to stay away from Copeland or the place where the crime took place, should he be released at a later point.

Police do not believe the attack was motivated by bias, which means that Vandyke will likely not face hate crime charges on top of the simple assault charge, unless additional information arises at a later time to convince the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to pursue bias enhancements.

A YouCaring page has been set up by Collective Action for Safe Spaces DC to help raise funds for Copeland’s recovery, including medical bills, legal fees, housing, and living expenses.

Copeland has been participating in the Safe Bar Collective program, a new program that trains bar staff to make bars safer and creates a hiring pipeline for trans women of color to work in such establishments. She is still searching for employment at this current time.

According to an update from Jessica Raven, the executive director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, Copeland has received the first installment of money raised by the website. In total, the campaign has raised over $4,000, all of which will benefit her directly.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at