Archive for the ‘hate speech’ Category
Bullying’s been in the news rather frequently recently, with the nine suicides of people who are clearly presented as cis gay men, and how the bullying plus the consequent suicides are a real problem, but there has been an elephant in the room while this conversation has gone on:
That is, we rarely hear about trans teens who are bullied and attempt or commit suicide. There have been a few, but there hasn’t been much talk about it. The findings from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey were just released, with some rather harrowing numbers:
“From our experience working with transgender people, we had prepared ourselves for high rates of suicide attempts, but we didn’t expect anything like this,” says Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our study participants reported attempting suicide at a rate more than 25 times the national average.” Forty-one percent of all respondents reported that they had attempted suicide, compared with a national estimated rate of 1.6 percent.
Other findings include:
- Thirty-five percent of the participants who had been bullied, harassed, assaulted or expelled because of their gender identity or expression while in school said that they used drugs or alcohol to cope with the effects of discrimination, compared to 21 percent of those who had not had similar experiences in school.
- Twenty-five percent reported that they were currently or formerly homeless, compared to 14 percent of those who did not report mistreatment in schools.
- Those who reported they had to “leave school because the harassment was so bad,” had an HIV infection rate of more than 5 percent, which is more than eight times the HIV infection rate for the general U.S. population.
This is part of the reason I am not entirely thrilled with the “It Gets Better” campaign – that for a lot of us, it simply does not. While many of us have the autonomy to begin transition, this often happens while forced into survival sex work, homelessness, and HIV, among other difficulties. Trans people have at least twice the unemployment rate of the general population. Other factors such as race and disability also factor into this, meaning that unemployment is much more likely for many. More data in the PDF, including breakdowns in population by race (but unfortunately not disability).
I don’t mean to introduce these statistics to say anyone has it harder, but rather to question why with all the talk about bullying and getting better, why what trans people specifically face is not discussed at all. I mean 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide? As compared to the 1.6% of the general population? I remember when people questioned the idea that trans people really had a 50% rate of attempted suicide, but it looks like that is confirmed. This is, honestly, reprehensible that this is constantly kept invisible, in the background. And it’s not as if trans people are a such a small minority, either. Educated guesswork puts us at .2-.4% of the population, with numbers supported in multiple countries, not even counting non-transitioning trans people that were neglected by Lynn Conway’s paper. In the US that means out of 310,430,000 people (per Wikipedia). 620,000 – 1,240,000 trans people. Relatively small compared to the rest of the population, but still significant. Not that population size should reflect anyone’s worthiness to not be bullied, harassed, denied employment, denied housing, and so on.
Suzan Cooke wrote about bullying as well today. I won’t quote the whole post but you really should read it. What she’s writing is not unusual. It is not out of the ordinary. It is what many trans people have had to deal with during our lives. And what she says about bullies is far more accurate than aphorisms about how they’re insecure or afraid. Studies have shown that bullies tend to be self-confident and popular.
Bullies are bullies because they reflect the patriarchal paradigm.
Bullies are considered tough. Because being tough means being able to dish out pain, hurt and humiliation without feeling guilt.
Being able to take pain, hurt and humiliation without being destroyed by it is called celebrating one’s victimization. Even though surviving such abuse without committing suicide or killing one’s tormentor takes great strength.
Destroying the lives of others is rewarded while having one’s life destroyed by bullying is punished further by people who treat the victims of bullying as weak and cowardly, unworthy of decent opportunities in life.
Damages are rarely awarded to people whose childhoods were destroyed by bullies. Or to children who were deprived of their right to an education and the right to experience school as a safe place in which to grow and learn.
Bullies bully because bullying is the path to success. It is the path to alpha status whether in a wolf pack or in the corporate structure.
Refusal to join the bullies places one with the victims. Joining the bullies gains multiple rewards. That is the mentality of Tea Baggers and lynch mobs alike.
Read the whole post.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a cis man’s violent street harassment of a woman who was waiting at a Seattle bus stop, minding her own business. Now, via KOMO News I see the case has reached the courts (minor edits for clarity):
A man charged with a hate crime for the bus stop beating of a transgender woman pleaded not guilty to the charge on Thursday.
Daniel Patrick Woodward is charged with malicious harassment in connection with the incident at the bus stop at NW Market St. and 15th Ave. NW on May 30.
According to charging documents, Woodward approached the victim, who was dressed as a woman and identifies as one, punched and kicked [her], called [her] a derogatory term for homosexual and said, “You ought to die and go to hell!”
A witness also heard disparaging comments related to the victim’s gender or sexual orientation and told police it was clear Woodward was attacking the victim because she was transgender, charging documents say.
Woodward appeared intoxicated at the time of arrest, according to police. He currently is being held on $250,000 bail at the King County Jail.
At the time of his arrest, Woodward had a no-bail felony warrant for escape. He has had numerous prior convictions, including for malicious harassment, assault, and reckless endangerment.
A man was charged Thursday with malicious harassment — the state’s hate crime statute — after police said he yelled a derogatory slur at a transgender woman and assaulted her.
Court documents allege the suspect, 51-year-old Daniel Patrick Woodward, told the victim she “ought to die and go to hell” after yelling the slur. [Via Seattle PI]
“The victim was waiting minding her own business when the suspect approached her and without provocation began assaulting her,” said Renee Witt, Seattle Police spokesperson. “Apparently he punched her in the face a number of times, threw her to the ground and kicked her.” [Via King5]
The Ballard victim told police she was fearful for her life and wanted to have medical attention for face and neck pain. She was taken to Ballard Swedish Hospital.
A witness who reported seeing Woodward yelling at the victim after the assault followed the suspect as he walked into a nearby store. He later pointed out the suspect to officers.
Police say Woodward was found near Northwest 54th Street and 14th Avenue Northwest and arrested for investigation of assault.
“The suspect appeared intoxicated and had a strong odor of intoxicants,” Officer Trung Nguyen wrote in an incident report. “He would not respond to my questions of whether he understood his rights.”
The victim was ashamed that someone would assault her based on gender, according to police. Nguyen photographed the victim’s injuries as evidence, and a witness said she did not fight back. [Via Seattle PI]
There’s also coverage in The Seattle Times but the misgendering by the writer, staff reporter Susan Kelleher, is pretty close to hate speech of itself, in my opinion. I realise that the police report also misgenders the victim, but I’m not convinced that is reason enough to use the kind of language that Ms Kelleher does – especially when “a police spokeswoman clarified that the victim identifies herself as a woman” [Via].
Curtsey to Stefani for the heads-up
Via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (link here), this report demonstrates only too well that transphobia and hate crimes know no age limits:
A group of teens beat a transgender person and threatened to kill her Saturday on Rainier Avenue, according to Seattle police.
A teenage boy was arrested and booked into the Youth Service Center for investigation of robbery and felony malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime law, according to police.
The teen told police he and his “homies” did not bother the victim until she solicited him for sex.
The usual assumption that all and any trans women are sex workers. This allegation doesn’t appear to have been proved anywhere but is still included in the police report as well as the media’s coverage.
The assault happened about 4:40 p.m. Saturday. When police arrived, several witnessed flagged them down, saying the suspects fled on a Metro bus.
Police stopped the coach near Rainier and South Andover Street. When the bus stopped, the teen who was arrested fled and was identified by a witness, police said.
Good that the police took prompt action. Bad that Officer Wayne Johnson’s report misgendered her so comprehensively:
The victim, in her 30s, told police “that as soon as the suspects got to him [sic], they started hitting and kicking him [sic] at the same time one of the (suspects) was attempting to take his [sic] backpack,” according to a police report.
The victim held onto her backpack and briefly got away. But she told police they charged again, knocking her to the ground. She said she heard a homophobic term said when she was being beaten, and one of the boys stated they were going to kill her.
“He [sic] also stated that he [sic] sometimes wears a skirt and he [sic] stated that he [sic] believes he [sic] was attacked because of this,” according to the heavily redacted report.
The victim did not suffer life-threatening injuries and declined medical attention at the scene.
The boy arrested, either 13 or 14, “was uncooperative in providing information regarding the identities of the other suspects involved in the incident,” Officer Wayne Johnson wrote in his report.
Is it really a surprise that cis society is inculcating its children to be as transphobic as its parents, when authority figures such as the police are sending out such mixed messages? From Officer Johnson’s report, it’s hard not to conclude that he holds views every bit as transphobic as the youths who carried out the attack.
And, when the law enforcement officers themselves insist on misgendering us in their official reports, what recourse to law do we as individuals really have, in a world where transphobic violence is obviously spiralling out of control? This year alone we’ve already seen reports of transphobic hate crimes being carried out directly by the police (Honduras, Idaho, U.S), as well as other cases where our attackers are left free to roam the streets by the authorities (Turkey).
If we can’t trust the authorities who are empowered to protect us; if they themselves make it so obvious that they have as much hate for us as our attackers, then who can we trust to defend us?
Curtsey to Stefani for the heads-up
Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox
Via YouTube, this news report carries the response from the Sacramento chapter of PFLAG to the “Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning” radio show on KRXQ-FM in Sacramento, California, during which hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States made remarks which included advocating child abuse of transgender children.
This report was broadcast on June 3, 2009 on KCRA-TV in Sacramento, CA, and was compiled by Carol Milazzo, M.D.
Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox
Story at HuffPo:
Even by the flexible moral, ethical, and professional standards of American talk radio, the May 28th segment of KRXQ 98.5 FM Sacramento’s Rob, Arnie, & Dawn in the Morning radio talk show makes for a sickening half-hour of ugliness and cruelty. For once, the focus was not LGBT adults, but minors. The hosts, Rob Williams and Arnie States, devoted the segment in question to a vicious diatribe against transgender children, some as young as five, focusing in particular on the case of one Omaha family raising a gender dysphoric child, and their decision to support her transition from male to female.
Williams and States took turns referring to gender dysphoric children as “idiots” and “freaks,” who were just out “for attention” and had “a mental disorder that just needs to somehow be gotten out of them,” either by verbal abuse on the part of the parents, or even shock therapy.
“Allowing transgenders to exist, pretty soon it becomes normal to fall in love with the animals,” they said.
For his part, States bragged that if his own son were to ever dare put on a pair of high heels, States would beat his son with one of his own shoes. He urged parents whose own little boys expressed a desire to wear a dress to verbally abuse and degrade them as a viable response. “Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heel shoes. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels.
“I’m going to go, ‘You know what? You’re a little idiot! You little dumbass!’” States sneered, adding later, “I look forward to when [the transgender children] go out into society and society beats them down. And they wind up in therapy.”
In light of the well-publicized suicides this year of the two boys who took their own lives because of bullying and harassment for “acting gay” (which, in the argot of modern North American teenagers, often refers to acting in a way considered unmasculine by their peers) the stunning lack of moral sensibility on the part of States and Williams is breathtaking. But it also points to the increasingly degraded landscape of talk radio.
GLAAD is apparently asking for an apology, because inciting violence against trans children is apparently worth so much as an insincere declaration of regret.
I’m also curious about the many cis people who, over the past couple of years, have insisted that transphobia doesn’t exist. Do you still think that? Do you still think that it’s just another facet of sexism? That trans people are just oversensitive?
I’m also disturbed at the commenters at HuffPo who feel it is immediately important to rush forward and defend Arnie and Rob from criticism of their words by characterizing such criticism as an attempt to rob them of their free speech. Seriously, criticism is also an exercise of free speech. Also, inciting violence is not an exercise of free speech. It’s an attempt to foster an environment in which the target group (in this case, trans people, specifically trans children) are made to feel unsafe just for existing. Apparently, it’s just fine to use public intimidation against some people, but it’s not okay to object to that intimidation.
Yeah, whatever. As far as I’m concerned, the FCC needs to (and needs to be able to) step in and take action when media personalities openly advocate violence against people (individuals or groups). It’s beyond a matter of opinions when a man is on the air saying that society needs to beat people down.
Edit to add: Call to Action and followup with the show’s sponsors. I don’t particularly encourage contacting the hosts and demanding an apology. I do particularly encourage contacting the sponsors and trying to convince them to leave. There should be real consequences for this, not (as I said above) an insincere apology.
The following verdicts were returned:
- Count 1: First degree murder – guilty
- Count 2: Bias motivated crime – guilty
- Count 3: Aggravated motor vehicle theft (1st degree) – guilty
- Count 4: ID theft – guilty
Sentencing for the first count: mandatory life without parole.
Sentencing on the remaining three counts will take place on May 8th at 3PM MST.
(Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox)
This morning’s session has focused on Judge Kopcow’s instructions to the jury, and a brief summing up of the cases for the defense, and for the prosecution.
Wednesday morning, April 22
- Judge Kopcow read the jury instructions to the jury
- Instruction 6 related to circumstantial evidence
- Instruction 14 related to culpability due to mental state. (Autumn Sandeen noted: This will come into play esp. with the bias crime charge – via http://twitter.com/justiceforangie)
- Instruction 15 covered elements for the count of first degree murder (F1 felony)
- Instruction 16 – on the four lesser included homicide charges
- Instruction 17 discussed second degree murder (F2 and F3 felonies). An F2 felony would be premeditated, whereas an F3 felony would apply if the jury decided that Angie had been murdered in the “heat of passion” – the trans panic defense
- Instruction 18 – the conditions required to meet the definition of bias motivated crime
- Instruction 20 – identity theft
- Instruction 21 concerned vehicle theft (Andrade was charged with stealing Angie’s PT Cruiser)
- Instruction 22 defined other terms specific to the trial and included “sexual orientation” – a catchall term which includes “transgender status”
- Prosecution’s closing statement. DA Rob Miller said that the case is about intent – Andrade’s intent – and added that some elements indicated a bias motivated crime, and others described first degree murder. DA Miller believed that neither manslaughter nor criminally negligent homicide would be appropriate verdicts.
DA Miller believed that Angie Zapata was not murdered in the heat of the moment, and that Andrade had enough time to do what a reasonable person would have done, namely, to walk away and get out of that situation. Andrade should be found guilty on all charges.
- Annette Kundelius, the Defense Attorney, presented the closing argument, saying that what happened was nothing to do with sexual orientation (ie Angie’s gender identity) but because Andrade had been deceived and therefore did not commit a felony (F1, F2 or F3). Finding out that Angie had male genitalia was “sufficient provocation” (to commit manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide) and Andrade “just reacted”
- DA Miller’s rebuttal: An attack to the head and face with multiple blows indicates intent, not deception – “Is she supposed to wear a sign that she’s transgender?”
- Judge Kopcow issued Instruction 24 on the process of jury deliberation and how to complete the paperwork for the verdict
- The jury retired to deliberate
The possible convictions are: 1st degree murder; 2nd degree murder; 2nd degree murder/heat of passion/manslaughter; criminally negligent homicide.
Andrade has three prior felony convictions, with another two pending (for rioting in jail, and misdemeanor assault), spanning 12 years.
Angie Zapata’s family will issue a formal statement half-an-hour after the verdict is made known.
(Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox)
This story in the Greeley Tribune makes my blood boil. Not, surprisingly, the coverage itself, but the defense tactics in the Angie Zapata trial:
The first few times, it almost seemed like the public defenders were misspeaking.
But then, those watching the murder trial of Allen Andrade started muttering under their breaths. Witnesses on the stand continued to correct the attorneys questioning them.
Family members and friends echoed repeatedly, “my sister,” “Angie,” one by one on the stand Friday as public defenders Annette Kundelius and Brad Martin questioned them about “Justin.”
Ok, so got that straight? The defense is ungendering Angie Zapata by using a male name and pronouns. Hammering home that she had a “male” body. That she was “really a man.”
Well, what’s the difference, some more clueless cissexual people might wonder? First, this is a matter of respect. Angie lived and died as a woman. Her family and friends were adamant about that, even in the face of persistent ungendering. Of course, this is a criminal trial, not generally regarded as a place for respect. But neither is it supposed to be a place for poorly reasoned argument. Make no mistake, this is a cheap, dirty tactic.
More importantly than respect, this sets up an impossible standard for trans people to meet. Even if we out ourselves–as Angie Zapata clearly did–we are nevertheless “proved” to have been lying. It means that living her life as a woman, having the name of Angie, of itself constitutes an act of deception. In the trial’s mini-opening statements, the defense said:
“This case is not about judgment of a lifestyle,” Martin told the jury. “It’s not about whether Justin [sic] Zapata’s lifestyle was right or wrong. It’s about a deception and a reaction to that deception. … Justin’s Moco Space profile was that of a female, not of a transgender, and it certainly wasn’t that of a man.”
This article here lays out the reasoning in its title “Andrade: Stunned Victim or Homophobe.” Here, Andrade is improbably conjured as the VICTIM, not the woman he brutally bashed to death. Because obviously, a trans panic “victim” couldn’t simply walk away, couldn’t simply have been mistaken, couldn’t go “nope, sorry, not for me.” No, he’s so victimised–traumatised–by Angie’s sheer existence as an embodied trans woman with a penis, that he was forced to kill her. No. Sorry. That’s bullshit, and illogical bullshit at that.
Martin’s defense disclaimer aside, this quite clearly is a judgment about “lifestyle” and it is about painting transgendered women as deceptive, and it is about a form of simplistic cissexism that forever precludes trans women from being legitimately female. The notion that Angie’s profile was truthful needs is one that I think a jury needs to be aware of. Because she was a woman, one accepted and loved by family and friends.
Quite obviously, this clears the way for the inevitable “trans panic” defense, a form of victim blaming that only appears to have legal credibility when applied to trans people. So yes, I realise it is the defense’s job to cast doubt onto every piece of evidence that the prosecution raises, and even to attack the credibility of the victim and any material witnesses. But this is not doing that. It does not raise the question of whether Angie was of good character or not–it suggests from the start that she never could have been. This is pandering to the worst in cissexist biases, and painting transness of itself as deserving of death.
This is hate speech legitimating hate violence, pure and simple.
h/t to Helen
Via this Tweet comes proof – not that proof should be needed – that transphobic violence and hate crimes take many forms.
From the Washington Blade:
Anti-trans assault reported at D.C. gay bar
Women allegedly attacked trans men outside Fab Lounge
Two female-to-male transgender patrons at the Dupont Circle gay bar Fab Lounge told police they were verbally harassed and assaulted by two female customers who denounced one of the men as androgynous.
The D.C. Police Department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit was assisting Second District detectives in investigating last week’s incident to determine whether it should be classified as an anti-transgender hate crime, said acting Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the unit.
Second District police officers responding to the scene did not designate the incident as a hate crime at the time they prepared their report of the assault, Parson said.
Mitch Graffeo, 40, of Alexandria, Va., said the incident began when he and a friend were getting ready to leave Fab Lounge shortly before 3 a.m. on Feb. 28 at the conclusion of the club’s weekly lesbian night. As his friend walked over to a sofa to retrieve his coat, a female customer began “groping” his friend, Graffeo said.
The 29-year-old friend, also from Alexandria, spoke to the Blade on the condition that he was identified only by his first name, Jaime.
Graffeo said Jaime, who is about 5 feet 4 inches tall and has a slender build, recently began a female-to-male gender transition process and has a youthful, boyish appearance. Graffeo noted he transitioned more than 10 years ago and his gender is readily recognized as that of a male.
“They said, ‘What the fuck are you? Are you a girl or a boy?’” Graffeo recalled one of the women saying to Jaime inside the club.
Graffeo said another woman, along with a man who was with them, joined the first woman in shouting insults aimed at Jaime’s appearance after Jaime asked the first woman to leave him alone.
Jaime told the Blade as many as three women in the bar ran their hands over his chest as they taunted him over his appearance, saying they wanted to find out if he was male or female.
He and Graffeo then left the Fab Lounge, which is located in a second-floor space at 1805 Connecticut Ave., N.W., in an effort to avoid a confrontation with the women, the two men said.
“When we were about 20 feet from the club’s entrance, one of the lesbians came up from behind and put [Jaime] in a headlock and again began to question his gender,” Graffeo said.
Jaime said that as the woman released him from her grip, another woman punched him repeatedly in the head and body, inflicting injuries that included a concussion, doctors told him later.
As the alleged assault unfolded on the sidewalk near the corner of Connecticut and Florida avenues, Graffeo said he asked the women to leave Jaime alone and announced he was calling the police on his cell phone. At that time, the woman who had held Jaime in a headlock “grabbed my phone out of my hands and hit me in the neck and head a few times,” Graffeo said.
Minutes later, Graffeo said, the male friend who had accompanied the women inside the club arrived in a car, which he stopped on Connecticut Avenue in front of the Royal Palace nightclub, which operates below Fab Lounge. He said the two women entered the car, which turned onto Florida Avenue and drove eastbound, Graffeo said.
He said police arrived minutes later after Jaime used his own cell phone to call 911. Graffeo noted that the woman who grabbed his phone never returned it, and the phone has been reported as stolen.
The two trans men said that officers who responded to the scene did not immediately indicate whether they attempted to locate or identify the attackers through a license plate number of the car the alleged attackers drove from the scene. The men said they saw the car license number and provided it to police.
Parson told the Blade that “all leads have been followed up on to include the license plate information provided in the report.”
Graffeo said Jaime declined an offer by D.C. police to call for an ambulance. Instead, he said, he drove Jaime to a hospital in Alexandria, which is closer to where Jaime lives.
Jaime told the Blade he was treated and released from the hospital after doctors administered a CT-scan and other medical tests. He said doctors told him he had a concussion and a whiplash injury to his neck. He also noted that he has numerous bruises on his body, face and head.
Parson said Second District police officers listed the incident in their report as an assault and theft. He said the officers did not initially classify the incident as a hate crime.
Graffeo and Jaime said they attempted to explain to the officers that Jaime was singled out because of his appearance and gender expression.
“I don’t know if they fully understood the situation,” Graffeo told the Blade. Graffeo said his reasons for talking with the Blade about the incident were twofold.
“I want to make our community aware that this hate crime occurred,” he said in an e-mail. “Moreover, I want to emphasize that this crime happened in a gay bar and that the offenders were from the LGBT community itself.”
Jaime said in a telephone interview that he was likewise “shocked that anything like this would happen here — that somebody from our own LGBT community would want to hurt somebody else from that same community.”
Parson said Second District police are investigating the incident with assistance from the GLLU.
“If we determine that the assault was wholly or partially motivated by bias toward their gender identity or expression, we could reclassify it as a hate crime,” he said.
Washington’s hate crimes law calls for stricter penalties for hate-related crimes where victims are targeted because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
Graffeo described the woman who assaulted him and took his cell phone as black, about 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighing about 140 pounds. He said the woman sported hair with long braids and wore a black baseball cap, black jacket and blue jeans with designs on the pockets.
He and Jaime said they did not get a good look at the woman who repeatedly punched Jaime because Graffeo was distracted by the assault against him and Jaime’s vision was obstructed as he was struck.
Both men said the attack against Jamie took place in front of the entrance of the Royal Palace in clear view of a Royal Palace security worker. Graffeo said an employee of Fab Lounge also came out to the sidewalk where the assault occurred and appeared to have watched as one of the two women who committed the assault entered the car of the male friend.
Representatives of Fab Lounge and Royal Palace did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Abridged version of the WB report posted at bird of paradox)