Archive for the ‘internalized transphobia’ Category
I believe in trans people.
Not because we are magically insightful. Not because we are full of arcane shapechanger wisdom. Not because we are more or less great or holy than anyone, in our way. We have among us wonderful people and people who do and say terrible things. We have our crooks and our hypocrites and our abusers and our traitors, same as anyone, right alongside our heroes and champions and grand examples of high character. We are a mixed bag, you and me and you and you and you. We don’t have any more or fewer secret Mysteries in our blood, wherever it bleeds from. We’re people, with our tiny daily mistakes and triumphs, our hopes and our hopes for forgiveness.
I believe in trans people.
“the history of transsexuality is a criminal one” – Viviane Namaste
Patti Shaw, a trans woman in Washington DC is suing the city for 10 million dollars after having been arrested for making a false report, then was held in a men’s prison to be sexually assaulted and harassed. From Courthouse News:
(warning: link includes obligatory repeated mentions of her assigned name. My interpolations are in square brackets)
In a rather complicated case, Shaw says she phoned in a report that her purse had been stolen from her home one night, then found the purse, but ended up actually being robbed that night while she took her dogs out.
Shaw says in her Superior Court complaint that when officers finally responded and she told her story, a detective asked rude questions. Several days later, she says, the detective said “that he did not believe her story and he said that he was going to issue a warrant for her arrest for making a false report to a police officer.”
Shaw says she was told to turn herself in to the 6th Precinct “within a couple days or she would be arrested.”
When she did turn herself in, at 4 a.m., she says, the officers on duty learned that she [is trans]. She says they ignored her legal identification stating that she had [had SRS], and threw her in a male holding facility.
Ok, so do we have this straight? A black trans woman makes a report that she’d lost her purse, and finds it. Then she claims to have been robbed that same night and makes a different report. The detectives are rude to her. Then a couple days later, a detective decides to arrest her for making a false report, and then things get predictably ugly at the police station.
So I think there’s two parts to this story. The first is the sheer fact of her arrest. When the detective says that he didn’t believe her story, how is “believability” being figured in relation to her race and transness? To be robbed the same day after making a pointless report is certainly a bit unlikely, to be sure, but not out of the realm of possibility. Would a white cis woman be likely to be arrested with the same chain of events? Somehow I doubt it.
Then there is the punitive nature of mobilising the law for this – she’s arrested a couple days after the interview after the detectives think about it some. Now, did they think about the sheer facts? Or was what they were thinking about how to arrest that trans woman they’d seen? This is, after all, Washington DC, a locale known to search trans women suspected of being sex workers (ie all trans women) and use condoms as evidence of prostitution. In any case, it’s hard to see how arresting her is somehow less of a drain on resources than making two reports in the same day.
The second part is what happens to her in jail. Even though they’re aware that she’s post-op (and thus should be placed with other women), she’s placed incorrectly in a men’s holding pen, harassed by the marshals and sexually assaulted by other prisoners. Arguably this qualifies as the “deliberate indifference” of law enforcement that the Farmer Supreme Court ruling of 1976 defines as cruel and unusual punishment in the treatment of trans prisoners. Arguably the officers must have been aware was a fair likelihood for a trans woman housed with men. Where were the guards, exactly? And indeed having a woman pee in front of a bunch of men seems not only designed to humiliate, but to stimulate sexual aggression.
Prisoner sexual assault is as Justice David Souter put it in 1976, “not part of the penalty that prisoners pay for their offenses against society.” And fuck, we’re not even talking about a convicted prisoner here, just someone accused of a crime and a fairly minor one at that.
So, my obvious conclusions. Police officers are not there to protect us as trans women, they are as likely to be a threat. Anecdotally, I think most of us are aware (or should be), that making reports is as dangerous as being suspected for a crime, because being on the radar of the police is not a healthy thing for a trans woman. And–this one’s for the HBS special snowflakes–SRS does not guarantee that you will be housed correctly if you’re unlucky enough to get caught up in the criminal justice system. And if you are housed incorrectly, things are likely to go very, very badly.
This what happens to trans women in the “justice” system. Fingers crossed Ms Shaw takes them for everything she can, cos God knows she deserves it.
ETA: It occurs to me that one thing we’re not told by that story was how the case against Ms Shaw proceeded. Is it still pending? Did it go to court? Was she convicted? Surely any story would mention that if it was the case. Because if there was no followthrough, it seems to me that there’s a fair chance it was basically a fit-up from the start due to a personal grudge or prejudice.
Little Light, writing about growing up trans and the processes of violence, abjection and denial that accompany it.
This is how we internalize the lies. This is how we accept the yoke of oppression. By living in a world where the truth that we are beautiful and worthy and lovable is even more painful to accept than the lie that we are none of these things, because all sense of fairness or order vanishes when you look the truth in the eye. If we are beautiful, we are in a world that does not care about our beauty, and even grinds it in the mud. If we are strong, we are living in a world so heavy that it saps our strength until we are tired all the time. If we are ourselves, we are living in a world that systematically strips away our selfhood like roast chicken scraped from the bone.
Until we are strong enough to look this in the eye and fight it, to stand up and fight and make the part of the world we stand on more okay no matter how hard it is or what it takes–until we are so very strong that we remember we are strong, and beautiful, and true, worthy of no end of love, no matter what–it’s just too much to bear. So we accept false stories instead, about how we’re dirty and ugly and weak and unlovable. We have to. I had to.
So, is it really helpful to describe being trans as such a horrible fate that we’d wish death on other people before trans?
I admit, I get rather uncomfortable when I read that, or I see someone thanking god that her child isn’t trans, or otherwise expressing that being trans is a horrible fate. I think that the problem with being trans is cultural and probably technological in some ways, but not personal. There’s nothing wrong or bad or abnormal about being trans, and it’s only cisnormativity that tells us that it’s a fate worse than death.