Archive for the ‘racism’ Category
The victim of a shooting in Halifax says she was targeted because she’s transgendered, but police doubt it was a hate crime.
Chris Cochrane, an entertainer who goes by the name Elle Noir, is recovering from a gunshot wound to her right arm.
She said her attackers yelled homophobic slurs as she was hit with gunfire at her Fairview apartment early Tuesday. She said she believes they intended to kill her.
“They were yelling, ‘Tranny faggot, open the door, let us in, let us in,’ which leads me to believe they knew who I was. I’m in a second-floor apartment. You know, you have to have a security key to get into the building.
“Obviously it was 100 per cent hatred.”
Halifax Regional Police had not interviewed Cochrane as of noon Wednesday. But after speaking with witnesses, investigators doubt her claim that the shooting was a hate crime, said a police spokesman.
“We believe this particular unit at least — while not saying this particular victim — was targeted specifically,” said Const. Brian Palmeter.
“Certainly we don’t believe this was a hate crime based on the information that we have so far … There may have been other reasons at play why this might have occurred.”‘
I really don’t have the cognitive bandwidth to add a lot of commentary to this. I am extremely displeased and disappointed with how the police are handling this situation.
Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey was released on February 3rd. Pieces of this report have come out over the past several months (posted about here and on Bird of Paradox, as well as likely many other locations). This is, however, the full 220-page report, which is filled with some depressing statistics.
- Respondents were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with incomes lower than $10,000
- Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed
- One in four reported being fired for their gender identity or expression
- Half said they experienced harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace
- One in five said they experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression
- 19% said they had been refused a home or apartment
- 19% said they had been refused health care
- 31% reported harassment or bullying by teachers
- 41% reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% for the general population
In category after category, the study showed that transgender people of color faced even more pronounced discrimination and higher negative outcomes; for example, African-American respondents reported unemployment levels at double the other respondents’, or four times the national average.
“The data really shows the compounding effects of racism combined with antitrans bias that combines to cause devastation and life-threatening discrimination for trans people of color,” said Mottet.
I am disappointed to note that there is no serious breakdown of how these numbers intersect with disability. 31% of the respondents indicated they had disabilities (categorized as physical, mental, or learning – national average is 20%), but the survey was perhaps not specific enough to match the CDC’s definition of a disability. 8% of the respondents received disability benefits.
I think this report largely covers the kinds of issues we’re facing as a community (or rather, as several overlapping communities). It finally gives us a focus on the concrete obstacles that trans people face, as well as how these obstacles differ on the basis of race. There is no rational objection to the idea that institutionalized cissexism is a real force that harms people on a daily basis.
Far more than the brain scans that Quinnae critiqued last week, this research has an immediate, practical, obvious purpose. Hopefully this data will translate into meaningful action.
I’ll need more time to digest the report before I’ll be able to say more about this.
Just found out about this, and ugh. I don’t have commentary right now, but the post itself says it all:
This op-ed piece was written by DC Trans Coalition member Sadie-Ryanne Baker, on behalf of and with help from the DCTC organizing collective, in response to troubling recent events.
Standing Against Criminalization
DC government must rethink impact on marginalized communities of policing sex work
On the weekend of September 25th 2010, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) raided a hotel in Northwest in a prostitution-related sting. After initial witness reports that dozens were detained, MPD has confirmed that six arrests were made on charges of soliciting prostitution.
Every week, the DC Trans Coalition receives numerous complaints involving police harassment. Many of these reports come from transgender, transsexual or gender-non-conforming (hereafter trans) individuals, especially trans women of color, who are involved in, or believed to be involved in, sex work. Due to transphobic and racist police bias, many trans women are harassed and falsely arrested for sex work (the crime of “walking while trans”) while simply interacting in their own communities.
Whether they are sex workers or not, however, is beside the point. No one deserves the degree of persecution and violence these individuals face. While most survivors of policing abuses are unwilling or unable to file formal complaints, we continue to receive a consistently high volume of contacts from individuals who have been assaulted and/or verbally ridiculed by police. Many are treated inhumanely while in custody, despite MPD’s own General Order prohibiting such abuse. A soon-to-be-released study by the National Center for Transgender Equality notes that 71% of trans respondents had experienced harassment and disrespectful treatment by police officers and 45% were uncomfortable reporting crimes to police. After the most recent raid, DCTC was approached for advice from trans community members who are fearing for their own safety in the face of similar sweeping police actions. No one should have to live with this fear.
Read the whole thing at the link. Seriously, follow it and read.
I am tired of reading blog posts, essays, articles about sex work that position trans women as an addendum, and fail to acknowledge how so many are in such a vulnerable position because of poverty and survival sex work.
So a story that’s been sweeping the internet lately is Antoine Dodson’s video in which he is talking about a rapist stalking the women in his neighborhood and how he is helpless to protect his sister. And how this video was turned into comedy for many who viewed it, and more.
I didn’t watch the video, and I’m disappointed because I didn’t really realize what was going on, what people were doing to Antoine and how they were erasing what happened to his sister and the other women in his neighbhorhood in search of a laugh. Several have post about this already, and rather than offer my own uninformed analysis, I’m going to direct you to their blogs:
Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper – On Feminism, Liberals, Black Folks, and Antoine Dodson:
For those who do not know, Antione Dodson is the brother of a potential rape victim. He, his sister [whose name I will not use in this post], her daughter, and his mother lived in low income housing, Lincoln Park, in Huntsville Alabama until recently. According to Dodson a rapist was targeting Lincoln Park because no one was doing anything about it. He said several young women and girls had been raped, and had either received no assistance or not asked for help because they knew the police were not going to do anything. Dodson also says the same thing happened to his family.
In late July, a rapist broke into their small home through a window and attempted to rape his sister. Dodson managed to scare the assailant and force him out of the apartment. He then called several of his friends in the area to look for the person because, like everyone else, he did not believe the police were going to do anything about an assault in low income housing. Later Dodson called both the Housing Authority Office that runs Lincoln Park and the Police. Hours went by before the police arrived and according to Dodson and others no major search was mounted by them. Also according to Dodson and others, the Housing Authority issued a statement but has made no improvements to security or safety in Lincoln Park to help protect them from being targeted. In fact, an attempted rape following a similar m.o. (rapist came through bedroom window, advanced on girl inside) occurred the following evening.
Sylvia at Problem Chylde – Think Twice:
this post is going to be a little didactic.
think twice before you laugh at antoine dodson. i know everything is supposed to take a backseat to short-lived fame and exposure. but how would you feel if your sister was attacked by a rapist and people did nothing about it? officials laughed at you, police took their time coming to investigate, media crews didn’t arrive until you called them, and then your time on the news gets spoofed to entertain others instead of warn them. antoine’s taking his time in the spotlight in stride, and i think he’s doing it for kelly’s sake. i hope all the people laughing and singing “hide your kids, hide your wife” are writing all of the people in kelly’s community and state to do something about catching the rapist.
i planned to write about this at feministe, fast on the heels of the gang rape of a 12-year-old at a nearby skatepark. what does it mean when you read about attack after attack after attack, and one of the thoughts in your head is “i hope no one auto-tunes something like this” or “how can this story garner more attention than it’s gotten,” when these stories should be enough to knock ten people on their asses with grief.
Black Amazon – Antoine Dodson HAS to be HILARIOUS:
Antoine Dodson is a lionheart . But for the rest of us he needs to be funny. He needs to be an internet meme , funny poor black guy,autotuned to death.
Prof Susurrois so amazing with her analysis of the three groups ( myself included ) that are full of teh fail , but I want to break em down a bit
Dodson has to be hilarious , because if his situation isn’t funny it would have to be enraging.
Dr. Goddess gives an excellent summation of what brought us this young lionheart ( i am calling him that forever) to national media attention.
There is a serial rapist in his community.
Yes if you are laughing about what got Antoine Dodson so angry you are laughing because serial rape is funny!
The Crunk Feminist Collective – Antoine Dodson’s Sister: On Invisibility as Violence:
We are in the midst of Antoine Dodson Mania! For those that don’t know him, he’s the now famous man who fought off the intruder that climbed into his sister’s second story window in the middle of the night and tried to attack her with her daughter present. Remember his reaction? Hilarious right? I mean pissed off that his sister was attacked! LMFAO! So hilarious that now there is this song that has remixed the news clip and turned it into the new summertime hit. It has even made the iTunes Top 20 and we can purchase sexual assualt for $1.99 and jam all day! And the star of all this is of course was Antoine Dodson for his “comedic” reaction to violence and the Gregory Brothers for their creative innovation of putting it to song. Sarcasm aside, I must admit that to remix a news story like that is pretty amazing. But what does it mean to remix violence against black women when our stories are already left behind?
See usually when a black woman is attacked we find some way of making it her fault. We ask questions like what was she wearing? What does she do for a living? How many sexual partners has she had in the past? You know, the typical stuff that removes accountability from her attacker. But in this case, where a black woman minding her damn business awoke to an attacker in her second story apartment, normal victim-blaming would not work. So now what do we do, because we obviously can’t take a black woman’s story of violence seriously? Well, that’s simple. We marginalize the attack and focus the story on her brother, whose anger we can exploit because it fits into stereotypes of queer masculinity that provide comic relief. The producers used the footage to lock Antoine in a frame, to capture him in place, in order to tell a story that fits their truths—black women’s confrontations with sexual violence are either not real or unimportant. Framed under the guise of “news” this masquerades as a story about a woman awaking to an intruder in her bed but is really a story about a funny black man, hilarious in his anger. It was never about her.
I know there’s more conversation in the blogosphere about this, and I hope there’s a lot more. I’m still reading through everything, and I think it’s definitely worth anyone’s time to do the same. This highlights so many issues with race and the intersection with gender that it’s hard to summarize properly.
Oh, and I definitely fit into Prof Susurro’s groups – QT was silent on the whole thing. I do admit I have trouble keeping up with things, but the end result was still silence.
Edit: category/intersectionality fail corrected
This week’s video is a quite amazing fan vid of Ariel Pink’s “Round and Round,” set to clips from 80′s aerobics movie Perfect. Both song and vid make me feel slightly nostalgic and slightly queasy at the same time.
This week’s open post has things:
Vanity Fair has an interesting piece about the dubiously short-term view of Washington politics. Jack Abramoff’s assessment of the culture of “legalised bribery” seems about right to me.
Anna Lekas Miller has a good post up at Global Comment about the manufactured “Ground Zero mosque” “controversy.” Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches uses that as a jumping point to suggest that this is a move in a wider Christian Right strategy to eliminate Islam altogether in the US.
Keeanga-Yamahhta Taylor in the Socialist Worker on how the Right has re-defined racism, stripping the concept of all meaning.
And lastly, Brentin Mock at Colorlines has a post up about the terrible working conditions people cleaning up the oil spill in face, and the desperation for work for many people in Louisiana.
Drop yer links in the comment section, cheers.
Eduardo Caraballo, an American citizen born in Puerto Rico, was detained for three days in Chicago for “looking Mexican. From Change.org:
Despite showing ID and even a birth certificate, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apparently decided he “looked” Mexican and must be using fake papers. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) had to intervene on his behalf to get Caraballo released after three days in jail.
There’s a couple of points here. One is the way citizenship is easily negated (indeed, Rep. Guitterez points out that other Puerto Rican citizens have even been deported to Mexico). The second is the way that racism inflects what happens when you show your ID. Because Mr Caraballo “looked” Mexican, his ID papers are somehow not believable.
One of the defenses I heard with the Arizona “papers, please” law is the time-tested excuse “people who aren’t breaking the law have nothing to fear.” Well clearly, that was the disingenuous reasoning of the privileged. For people who are or look Mexican, if you come to the attention of the police,* then whatever “proof” you have of citizenship, permanent residency, tourism etc may not be believed.
As Change.org points out, this case and others show the deep flaws with racial profiling, and the disturbing confluence of police and immigration agents in the US.
*Mr Caraballo was arrested in connection with a car robbery, the case remains under investigation. The issue of his being held (a civil rights issue) is separate to the criminal case.
Bit snowed under at the moment, but just wanted to note the appalling law just passed in Arizona today. From NPR:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial bill Friday that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants [sic*] to be in the state. The new law will require local police to seek proof of immigration status if there is reason to suspect individuals are illegal immigrants. [. . . ]
The law requires noncitizens in Arizona to carry their immigration paperwork with them at all times. That clearly would be an example of the state intruding into exclusively federal domains of enforcement and regulation, Tumlin argues, and will inevitably lead to racial profiling.
“How are police going to enforce this?” she asks. “They’re not going to ask whites.”
The implications of this are staggering, enshrining racial profiling into law. Inevitably Latin@s will be targeted by the police, with “suspicion” supposedly predicated on an “appearance” which is somehow divorced from race (note the disingenuous Republican senator going on about clothes and shoes). More in a bit, but suffice to say this is disturbing beyond the telling. Legally, today Arizona turned into a police state (though whether it survives constitutional challenges is another story).
* as GallingGalla points out in the comments, NPR’s usage of the term “illegal immigrants” is itself suspect, a racist dogwhistle
Veronica Baxter was arrested and placed in a men’s prison last year, in violation of policy that allows trans people to be placed in the prison they prefer – trans women are placed in isolation to protect the general population in women’s prisons from cis panicmongering, but Veronica was placed in the general population if a men’s prison. She was found dead in her cell on March 10, 2009.
Demand ensues for open investigation into an Aboriginal trans death in custody in Sydney, writes Rachel Evans.
On March 10, 2009, three days after the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, 34-year-old Veronica Baxter was arrested by Redfern police. She was charged with six counts of supplying a prohibited drug and held on remand at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre.
Despite being a trans woman, she was placed in the maximum-security jail for men. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.
Baxter was an Aboriginal woman from the Cunnamulla country, south- west of Queensland. She dressed, appeared, and had identified as a woman for 15 years and was known by family and friends as a woman.
Yet she was placed in a male jail against NSW government policy, which states that trans people be placed in the jail of their choosing.
Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association and elder of the Wiradguri nation, and has been fighting black deaths in custody for decades and campaigning around the Baxter case for a year.
He explained: “If trans people are post-operative transgender women, they are considered real women, and are placed within the women’s jail. If they are pre-operative transgender women, they are considered ‘male’ and are normally processed in a male jail.”
Trans people face a disproportionate amount of abuse, rape, and murder in jail. Consequently, in Australia, strict guidelines exist, requiring protective segregation of trans people from mainstream prisoners.
The Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 states “any person received into the custody of the NSW Department of Corrective Services (DCS) who self-identifies as transgender has the right to be housed in a correctional facility appropriate to their gender or identification”. It says: “Transgender inmates are to be managed according to their chosen gender of identification.”
More at link.
Queer rights activist group, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) is demanding action on this campaign. Steaphan Markatony, CAAH co-convenor, said: “Was Veronica Baxter killed in custody by transphobic guards or inmates? We don’t know. The only way we will find out is if there is a full, open inquiry. Support CAAH’s campaign to get it.”
cross posted at Harlot’s Parlour
Since yesterday was World AIDS day I thought I’d drop some stats about seroprevalance amongst trans women, especially sex workers, worldwide.
Studies about HIV infection rates amongst trans women populations overall:
* 14% amongst trans women in Puerto Rico (Rodriguez-Madera and Toro-Alfonso 2005) and Chicago (Kenargy and Boswick 2005)
* 21% in Sydney (Alan et al 2005)
* 24% in Amsterdam (Gras et al 1997)
* 25% in Houston (Risser et al 2005)
* 35% in San Francisco (Clements-Nolle 2001)
Specifics (transsexual unless noted, some included transvestite or travesti sex workers)
* 63% of trans women of colour in San Francisco indicated HIV positive (Clements 2001)
* 74% in Rome among transsexual and travesti who use drugs. Most notably, the same study found 100% seroprevalence of people who had been in the same milieu for more than four years (Gattari et al 1992).
Rates amongst trans sex workers
* 46% in Lisbon (Bernardo et al 1998)
* 68% in Atlanta (Elifson et al 1993)
* 63.8% in Rio de Janiero (Surratt et al 1996)
* 62% amongst transsexual and travesti sex workers in Bueno Aires (Berkins and Fernandez 2005)
All of these statistics have been taken from Viviane Namaste’s recent research paper “Undoing Theory: ‘The Transgender Question’ and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory” (Hypatia journal, vol 24, no. 3, summer 2009) where she argues that a feminist emphasis on what transsexual and transgender bodies mean has neglected the very real crises of violence and HIV infection amongst our communities. Namaste argues compellingly that HIV has ravaged communities of transsexual women worldwide, a “lost generation” whose disappearance has largely gone unnoticed. Looking at these statistics, I can’t say I disagree with her.
So, most of you would be aware that today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Last year I asked how to mourn, and I still don’t have any answers. What I do know is that mourning is a complicated business, and even more so when it’s done on a communal level.
I have my misgivings about TDOR, about how productive it is, about appropriation. Who is being mourned is the most important question of all. 160 estimated deaths of trans people, and the vast majority in Central and South America (75% according to Transgender Europe). So it seems to me that to unite all trans people under one banner ignores the specifics of death – sex (the majority are trans women), race (Latina and black), class and occupation (sex work) are as important factors as transness. Appropriating those deaths for political work seems dubious to me at best.
There was an Italian atheist Jewish writer called Primo Levi who wrote about his experience of Auschwitz, over and over. In his last book The Drowned and the Saved, he drew up a distinction between “the drowned” (those who died) and “the saved” (those who lived). He argued that only the drowned could give true and full witness to the horror of the Shoah.
I’m not comparing the murders of trans people to the Shoah directly – the murder of trans people, which horrific, is not institutionally organised towards genocide in quite the same way. But what I want to point out is the structure of witnessing. Even Levi, a man who lived through the camp, at the end of his life felt inadequate to witnessing, unable to have fully experienced the violence he wrote about. Even his proximity was not enough.
Now, I have experienced transphobic violence and abuse. Most if not all of my trans women friends have. Most of the stats I have on violence are fairly sobering – estimates from 33 to 50% of us experiencing trans related violence in any given year. White privilege may protect me.. but it may not. The odds are in my favour.. probably. But how can you tell ahead of time whether you’ll get unlucky, whether that group of teenagers only want to beat the shit out of you and not murder you? How can you truly know? I live with that fear, as do many of you, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
So what I want to acknowledge is that there’s a paradox, that no trans person can truly witness for the murdered–especially those we’ve never met. And yet, with due caution, I think we should. Not to further our own goals, not to get legislation passed that protects only the already-privileged or to wallow in self-pity, but to honour the memories of every single trans person murdered this year, and to acknowledge the violence that our community lives with as a whole. To acknowledge that even in death, transphobia and cissexism mean that the murdered are not properly remembered, not even by the correct names and pronouns–and those people should be remembered as the right sex. That is our task for today (surviving ourselves, as well as prevention of more of the same is our task for the rest of the year). The example of Levi suggests that the task of witnessing may well be impossible, but we should attempt it nevertheless.
Please read the full list of names here.