New York Magazine

Ten Miles From Stonewall

Layleen Polanco’s death haunts a prideful celebration.
Polanco in a Facebook photo from 2012.

AT THE FLOWER FUNERAL HOME in Yonkers, Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco was surrounded by dozens of friends, family members, and rainbow-colored bouquets of roses. Mourners paid their respects to the 27-year-old transgender woman as “Over the Rainbow” gave way to the thrum of house music. The family wore T-shirts bearing Polanco’s image on the front, angel wings drawn sprouting off her shoulders, and the transgender-pride flag on the back. Her mother knelt before her casket. To the right, a big rainbow-lettered banner read: HUMAN. Most of those attending had not seen Polanco for a long time, at least since April, when she was arrested for two misdemeanors and, unable to put up the $500 bail, sent to Rikers. She spent the last nine days of her life

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