Tag: violence

It’s Not About Her Ex: A Trans Partner’s Story

Posted by – October 16, 2014

My friend M. is a woman who was assaulted by her ex. Her ex happens to be a woman, too, of trans history. When the news of what had happened broke, her story was drowned out by all of the people who only wanted to use their story as an ideological argument. They took the focus from the personal, intimate, terrifying crime that happened and put it instead on the identity of the person who was guilty of committing it.

Those of us who are partnered to trans people are used to this, to some degree. The trans person takes up all the space; they’re the ones people are interested in, who people go out of their way to validate or compliment or criticize. We disappear.

My friend needed to press charges, to see justice of some kind, to let her children know that they should never let a lover treat them like this no matter who the person is or the “reason” for it. Instead, reports about the crime disappeared her, the victim, and so the very tiniest thing I could do to help was give her a platform to tell her story.

I am embarrassed and ashamed that my fellow feminists and others have made this about everyone but the person it should have been about, and who effectively forced by friend to speak up as a trans ally instead of being able to focus on her own healing.

So here’s what she had to say:

TO all of the people who deny the personhood and womanhood of trans women,

I am the woman who was victimized by my former spouse. She recently pled guilty to two misdemeanors for domestic violence. The news about her crime has been commented on by people for whom her trans status and her genitals seem to be of utmost importance, and who want to use my ex as a way to somehow “prove” that she’s really a man and in turn that her bad behavior somehow means that all trans women are “really” men (and that all men are, in turn, incorrigibly violent and likely to rape).

My own voice has been drowned out in all this, so I wanted to say a few words.

You are so focused on history and the genitals of the person who violated me. It’s literally the loudest conversation out there, drowning out the actual victim’s story – MY STORY. It is also, GROSSLY missing the point. I’m calling you a “hate group” because your anger regarding the violence against women perpetrated by men has so taken over your brain that your hairtrigger hatred automatically pounces on ANY OPPORTUNITY to denounce trans women as men, and to denounce men for how horrible they are.

My case is not about the genitals of my wife. Her chromosomal structure and genital configuration and that she was assigned male at birth have got NOTHING TO DO with the sexual violation of my body. Why does it matter if she used her penis or even has one? WHO CARES?? You want so badly to create the “all men/penises are evil” platform, that you can’t see the anguish your comments cause me, the victim, and other victims of sexual abuse.

The CRIME here was not her gender configuration. What if she had XX chromosomes or a vagina? What if she had used a carrot? A bamboo plant? A fist, a dildo, or ANY OTHER BODY PART OR OBJECT? The CRIME was the sexual violation of my body by someone I loved, who was under the influence of alcohol. THAT should be the focus of this conversation, not the instrument used.

I’ve always supported my wife’s transition. I didn’t know her as a man for long, but it didn’t matter to me because I loved who she was and didn’t mind what form her body took: I knew that I would love her body forever. She was a gentle, sweet, vulnerable person. It’s one of the things I loved about her. She was the most considerate intimate partner I had ever had. She was a far cry from my previous marriage, where a cisgender male did indeed commit all the crimes you would attribute to a male abuser. He was all the horrible things without the alcohol.

I loved our intimate relationship. That’s what makes this crime particularly horrifying. It was something I LOVED. Something we BOTH loved. It wasn’t her genitals that caused the crime. Even during the assault, she was saying I was beautiful, over and over. She didn’t even know what she was doing. It was like she wasn’t THERE. She wasn’t angry or saying horrible things. On the contrary. But that was the real mind fuck. When I told her to stop and that we weren’t going to be doing that this time, and that she would regret it in the morning, she just said, “No I won’t”, like ‘don’t be silly’, and she didn’t stop. And she wouldn’t stop. And she kept hurting me. And hurting me. She was someone else then.

Because she would have never done this sober.

I am not saying that her addiction is an excuse, but I can’t ignore the horrible effects of it, either. Ask anyone who has had a DUI or done something else horrible while under the influence. The problem is when that usually wonderful person is dangerous when under the influence. They must be held accountable for their behavior. As far as I’m concerned, her crime began that night with her first drink.

In my case, I am deeply saddened that the LGBT and feminist communities have remained almost entirely silent about my experience. The intersectionality of this event SHOULD BE a conversation, and we should have it BECAUSE it makes us uncomfortable. Much easier to pretend it’s not there. Let’s just stay angry at all the men and people with penises! So much EASIER, RIGHT?

It’s disappointing that some people are unwilling or unable to do the emotional work it requires to process that someone they care about can be capable of something really awful. But from the experienced feminist and LGBT communities, I expected better.

The transphobic radical feminists and other transphobic people will continue to rage over the state of my wife’s genitals, and I can’t stop them. But I hope more intelligent and thoughtful people will rise to the occasion to steer the conversation to what really matters.

I want her to be accountable. I want this to never happen again. I want to forgive her. I want this story to be about forgiveness and redemption. I need it to be. I need others to let it be that, too – to be my story, my trauma, my choice, my agency.

Tiffany Edwards

Posted by – July 3, 2014

Tiffany Edwards was the fourth trans woman of color killed this June. She was also the fourth trans woman murdered in Ohio in the past 16 months.

Her suspected killer, however, turned himself in this morning to police. His mom had prayed he would.

What’s astonishing about the news clip and brief interview with the suspect’s uncle is his idea that this was not a hate crime. The uncle refers to Tiffany as a gay boy (ugh), and from what he says, I’m not really convinced that he equates homo- and transphobia with hate at all.

Just as with other “diversity” issues out there, there is a frequent misunderstanding that hate can only be based on race or ethnicity or religion, and that sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t categories. Maybe it’s because we took so long to pass the Matthew Shepard Act; maybe it’s because these kinds of crimes, and this kind of hate, is so commonplace, and legitimized by panic defenses.

But either way, perhaps some justice for Tiffany Edwards will happen. None that will make any sense, though. She was beautiful and 28 and didn’t live to see the July after Pride month.

Love to her friends and family.

Triggery (But Funny?)

Posted by – May 28, 2014

I found it kind of stunning, either way. Pretty much the truth of it, as disturbing as it is.

It reminds me of that Margaret Atwood quote that’s circulating a lot- here’s a paraphrase: when men are asked why they’re afraid of women, they say women may laugh at them, but when women are asked why they’re afraid of women, they say men may kill them.

What He Did

Posted by – January 20, 2014

I love this Daily Kos diary which explains what Dr. King actually did. It’s not about the quotes. It’s about standing up to systemic violence.


My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people . . .

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

(I think sometimes that in a very different way, this is what LGBT people have been doing for the past 20 years or so.)

Dear Brandon: 20 Years Ago Today…

Posted by – December 31, 2013

20 years ago tonight Brandon Teena was murdered. Two friends, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, were killed with him.

20 years ago the trans community protested that Brandon was not killed because he was a “lesbian” but because of his gender identity, which in turn triggered the organizing and anger of the contemporary trans community.

20 years after his death, so much has changed — much of it for the good, but so, so much still needs changing. Guys like him — living on the outskirts of mainstream society, with little parental support, so little money, who (want to) transition at a young ago but who have almost no access to good, trans-friendly healthcare — are still under-represented and under-served.

We still don’t have a non-discrimination law that protects trans people from employment, housing, or other forms of discrimination. There is, in part due to his murder, a hate crimes law which included gender identity.

Despite the fact that trans people still face enormous levels of violence and discrimination, more and more are coming out; more and more are getting involved in what VP Biden called “the civil rights issue of our times”. More and more allies who aren’t trans are paying attention. All of which is great, but still.

He would have turned 41 this year. I wish he had.

 

 

Cleveland Trans Murders

Posted by – December 8, 2013

Two violent murders of trans people happened in two days in Cleveland.

  • Brittany Stergis, 22, was found shot in her car.
  • Betty Skinner, 52, was found dead in her apartment, apparently of head injuries.

Neither has been labeled a hate crime (yet?), and Cleveland police are still looking for information. Their # is 216-623-5464.

Stay safe out there.

Defense Attorney Reveals Culture’s Transphobia

Posted by – December 5, 2013

First: At least some justice has been served in the case of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, who was killed in March 2010. So at least there has been some justice for another trans woman who was killed by a tranphobic, violent man. Up to 40 years in prison for Rasheen Everett, who apparently was violent toward his girlfriends who weren’t trans, too.

But it was the defense attorney’s transphobic bullshit that really irked me. During the sentencing hearing, as Everett was facing a sentence of 29 years to life, his defense attorney asked:

“Shouldn’t that [sentence] be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals?” he reportedly asked, adding, “Who is the victim in this case? Is the victim a person in the higher end of the community?”

And then he pointed to Gonzalez-Andujar’s own history, as if, somehow, killing someone who’d had some shit happen in their own life somehow made this violent murder “less bad”. The attorney also referred to Gonzalez-Andujar as “he”.

But Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter, who described Everett as “coldhearted and violent menace to society,” didn’t take too kindly to Scarpa’s argument. “This court believes every human life in sacred,” he said. “It’s not easy living as a transgender, and I commend the family for supporting her.”

Well done, Justice Butchter.

Renisha McBride

Posted by – November 7, 2013

So what the fuck is going on in this country? A woman’s car dies so she stops in a suburb (of Detroit) and knocks on a door for help and is shot in the back of the head when she turned to leave.

Her body is found nearby, except nope, it wasn’t, it was found on the front steps of this house.

I’m assuming I don’t have to tell you the suburb was white & the woman was black.

Horrifying, sickening, frustrating, and saddening. I’m tired of these stories, tired of people resolving everything with guns and violence.

& Ugh, her poor family.

 

 

Islan, & Harlem, & Me

Posted by – August 25, 2013

I went to college in Harlem, slept with men in Harlem, lived a little north of Harlem and a little south of Harlem for most of my 20s. I cut my teeth on womanism, which was the first form of feminism that ever felt like it invited me in.

& I used to ride the subway to and through Harlem and I saw young women like Islan on their way downtown to the Piers or from a date and it was one of the only times in my life I used to pray, the way an agnostic might, to my grandma, to keep that young woman safe. I was a white woman from the suburbs who moved through black and brown communities safely because of my skin privilege & straight privilege & cis privilege. That is not to say I always was safe, & ultimately, I wasn’t, but that’s another story for another day.

& I wasn’t going to say too much about Islan because I am still recovering from the shock and horror and sadness of the deaths of Cemia and Evon, but then I read this short, raw piece by Grace Annam at Alas & thought better of my silence.

& The non-trans people of this planet need to step the fuck up. We can’t keep letting this happen.

There’s a lot more to say. There’s a lot more anger & heartache & sorrow & fury where this post came from, & sometimes I want an emotional callous to keep from feeling all of it every time I see a beautiful face like Islan’s & hear it was blotted out of existence by someone’s fists, except I don’t want that callous either, because what kind of asshole would I be then?

RIP Islan Nettles

Posted by – August 23, 2013

As if another side of the universe is heard from: Islan Nettles, a 21 year old trans woman, died of wounds inflicted Saturday night. She died yesterday in Harlem hospital. She and her friends were attacked by a group of men after the men realized they were trans.

A man was arrested, at least.

Why aren’t Chelsea Manning jokes funny? This is why.

No More Gay/Trans Panic Defense?

Posted by – August 17, 2013

I hope so. It’s a ridiculous idea. The American Bar Association has voted on it, with these stipulations:

The resolution passed by the ABA House of Delegates says that legislation should:

(a)    [Require] courts in any criminal trial or proceeding, upon the request of a party, to instruct the jury not to let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence its decision about the victims, witnesses, or defendants based upon sexual orientation or gender identity; and

(b)   [Specify] that neither a non-violent sexual advance, nor the discovery of a person’s sex or gender identity, constitutes legally adequate provocation to mitigate the crime of murder to manslaughter, or to mitigate the severity of any non-capital crime.

RIP Dwayne Jones

Posted by – August 11, 2013

(I don’t know what his femme name was, or if he even had one, or even if he used female pronouns. His friend Khloe, in this article, refers to Jones as “him” so I’m going with that.)

This is another heartbreaking account of homophobia and transphobia, and another reminder to boycott Jamaica until they get their act together.

Dwayne was the center of attraction shortly after arriving in a taxi at 2 a.m. with his two 23-year-old housemates, Khloe and Keke. Dwayne’s expert dance moves, long legs and high cheekbones quickly made him the one that the guys were trying to get next to.

. . . Minutes later, according to Khloe and Keke, the girl’s male friends gathered around Dwayne in the dimly-lit street asking: “Are you a woman or a man?” One man waved a lighter’s flame near Dwayne’s sneakers, asking whether a girl could have such big feet.

Then, his friends said, another man grabbed a lantern from an outdoor bar and walked over to Dwayne, shining the bright light over him from head to toe. “It’s a man,” he concluded, while the others hissed “batty boy” and other anti-gay epithets.

Khloe says she tried to steer him away from the crowd, whispering in Dwayne’s ear: “Walk with me, walk with me.” But Dwayne pulled away, loudly insisting to partygoers that he was a girl. When someone behind him snapped his bra strap, the teen panicked and raced down the street.

But he couldn’t run fast enough to escape the mob.

Here’s the original report of the murder.

& To hell with anyone who isn’t speaking up about what they saw and who they saw. The same to Jones’ family who wouldn’t even claim the child’s body.

 

Evon Young’s Killers

Posted by – June 8, 2013

Trigger warning: this death was horrific and brutal and cold blooded, in my opinion. The description is journalistic and, as a result, very upsetting.

Evon Young’s killers are pleading guilty to various charges which is a good thing that will help his family and the other communities he was a part of find closure in his death.

I don’t really understand any of it. I have been reading reports of these up close and personal, brutal, immolating murders for a decade now, and no part of it ever makes any sense to me. Who are these people and why do we even consider them human, still? I really don’t know. But I’m always newly horrified at how coldly, how brutally, these things can happen.

There are days when you cry, and days when you spit nails, but none of it makes any sense of this kind of crime. I don’t think I’m ever going to understand.

But I will say: this is why the world needs to get past their fear of trans people. It’s why all of us need to stop thinking of trans people’s birth genders as their “real” gender. It’s why denying trans women as women – whether that’s coming from a fundamentalist Christian or a radical feminist – isn’t ever just theoretical or political. These are the lives that are lost when we deny the truth of trans people’s experiences and reports of their own genders.

I am losing any tolerance I once had of any kind of transphobic “theories” of gender that deny a person’s humanity and their gender and Evon Young is why.

Patrick Stewart Wins Again

Posted by – June 4, 2013

This is a pretty amazing statement on domestic violence, post traumatic stress disorder, and respect for parents.

At 2:40 & 6:20 he’s especially astonishing.

Help Qween Amor

Posted by – May 12, 2013

Qween Amor was assaulted in Union Square on May 7th, 2013. The suspect is now in custody. Immediately after this video was taken, her suitcase (pictured, red) was stolen. It contained her amplifier, laptop, and all other possessions.

S/he needs help to purchase a new amplifier/boombox, so that she can continue performing & sending her message of love. Contributions can be made via paypal to: QweenAmor@gmail.com.

At Least in Death: Help Give Cemia Acoff a Respectful Funeral

Posted by – May 4, 2013

Cemia Acoff

Cemia Acoff was murdered in a barbarous way, and now, multiple activists and organizations are working with her family, the funeral home and, yes, the morgue, to bring her home.

They need your help.

They have set up The Cemia Acoff Fund which will, literally, bring Ce Ce home and ensure that she receives a proper send off, full of love and support from the community – and that includes the love and support of her family.

You can donate to The Cemia Acoff Fund here.

The groups involved include:

TransOhio
Shane Morgan, Founder & Chair

Cleveland Trans Community Outreach
Jacob Nash, Chair

Equality Ohio
Elyzabeth Holford, Executive Director

LGBT Center of Cleveland
Phyllis Harris, Executive Director

AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland / Beyond Identities Community Center (BICC)
Tracy Jones, Chief Executive Officer
Miquel Brazil, BICC

RIP Cemia Dove or “CiCi” Alcoff

Posted by – April 30, 2013

As I said on my FB page yesterday: I’m sorry, Ms. Alcoff, that we have not yet made the world a place that is safe enough for your beauty.

Rest in Peace.

(And journalists, and police, get your shit together already.  For those who are wondering, she felt forced to admit she was a man, which, if she hadn’t had her ID changed legally, she might have done in order to prevent more complications and charges. Trans women do not “admit” to being men because they “know” they are, but because they know that people are stupid and hateful and shitty to trans people.)

Patrick Stewart: 1 Million Men Against Violence Against Women

Posted by – March 11, 2013

“Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten,” Patrick Stewart said. “Every nine seconds.”

As if he weren’t cool enough already, it turns out he served as the host for the launch of “Ring The Bell,” a global campaign calling on one million men to make one million “concrete, actionable promises” to end violence against women.

“Violence against women is the single greatest human rights violation of our generation,” Stewart said.

“I became an expert,” Stewart said. “I knew exactly when to open a door and insert myself between my father’s fist and my mother’s body.”

He said his father was “an angry and unhappy man who was not able to control his emotions—or his hands.”

“The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured,” Stewart added. “She did not provoke my father—and even if she had, responding with violence is not an acceptable way with dealing with conflict.”

To his world where men promise to end violence against women: Make it so.

It Was Rape

Posted by – March 9, 2013

I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Jennifer Baumgardner’s new documentary It Was Rape. Eight women tell their stories about their experiences with sexual violence.

These experiences are so complicated, and even for these interviews you can hear all the women trying to make it less of a deal than it is and than it was. Why?

It’s entirely worth watching, but make sure you’re in an okay head space if you’re someone who has had this kind of experience – or even if you haven’t.

One of the women is told by one of her friends that “any time anyone has sex out of someone out of fear, it’s rape,” and that’s a good reminder, for everyone. And oh – this isn’t just for women. Men should watch this, too.

 

Band Together: Trayvon Martin

Posted by – February 26, 2013

It’s been a year since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed for wearing a hoodie and carrying an iced tea and a pack of Skittles. He would have turned 18 this month.

This artwork is by Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski. Go check out more of her stuff.