This morning I posted the following news item to my Facebook page. It’s from a New Zealand based website discussing the verdict of “Manslaughter” for two men who apparently beat a transgender indivdual, a somewhat elderly transgender person I might add, to death.
Simply based on the facts as presented in the news article, it seems clear that it was a hate crime and that the deadly beating was also premeditated. Also it seems there may have been some bullying of members of the jury. All in all an all too classic example of how crimes against transgender people are often dealt with in the court systems not just of the United States, but apparently internationally.
I am reposting a comment made by an old, real world (not just Facebook) friend of mine, because it is an argument which I have encountered from a number of other people. Moreover, it is an argument not often dealt with directly. I was greatly offended by it to be quite honest. But I appreciate the opportunity to respond to it in a way which hopefully can serve as a public dialogue.
As always, I leave you to judge for yourself, both the original comment and my response:
Two men accused of murder have been found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter of Upper Hutt transsexual Richard “Diksy” Jones on April 29 last year.
I don’t think that it’s just about trans people. The elderly, people with disabilities, women, children..the list could go on and on, are treated as less than others on a daily basis in this country. They too are beaten, raped, killed… What makes a trans persons life any more valuable? If one alters their appearance in such a way that makes them stand out in what mainstream society believes is not necessarily acceptable then I believe they must deal with the consequences..not that I think killing them is morally permissible. Obviously we, as a society need to make some changes in our moral compass but I think if trans people are fighting for equal rights than they also need to be aware that they are not the only minority group that is frequently targeted either physically, emotionally, or both. I’m sure this will anger some but I stand by my opinion, & that’s the beauty of this country we’re allowed to have our own ideas & opinions, all the while being protected by The Constitution.
I appreciate that you have your own ideas and opinions and so long as polite dialogue is respected I like to encourage free and open discussion on my page. That said, I think that not only did you entirely miss my point, your opinion is wrong-headed and offensive in the extreme.
You come close to a very valid point. Trans people are hardly the only victimized or oppressed group. Frankly I’m a strong believer in Equal Rights and Equal Protections for all people, not just one special group. I focus on trans people, because that’s where I can be most effective. It’s what I know as well as directly relevant to my own personal experience in the world every single day.
It’s also important to note that the very reason I came back to Western MA is because I, and the woman I love, felt it was extremely unsafe for me to stay where I was. I’m just too visible as a person, never mind as a transperson. I am not quiet and I have never desired to “blend in”.
You suggest that we “must deal with the consequences.”
Well no shit Sherlock. We do. I DO. Everyday, in a thousand different ways. It doesn’t mean we should be quiet about it. It doesn’t mean we should ever ACCEPT it. Precisely because we are not the only ones targeted by abuse WE MUST stand up to our oppressors and tell them they are WRONG. We will not quietly accept such treatment.
As for the point I was trying to make originally, the point of my posting, it is not: “What makes a trans persons life any more valuable?” It is instead, why is a trans person’s life considered to be so much LESS valuable?
Why, when we are killed and beaten, are our murderers so often simply given a slap on the wrist or in many cases, let off the hook entirely!?!?!?!!
If you doubt this statement, look at the history of violence against transpeople. See how often the “Trans Panic” defense has been used successfully. I promise you there is much you will not be able to find. Because there are few Hate Crime laws that protect transpeople, violence against us often goes unrecorded. You will find it if you bother to look though.
Additionally, much of this violence is against completely “passable” transsexuals. Those of us who choose to hide are no more safe than those, like the person in this article, who are more visibly different. In such cases we are all too often accused of “deception” or “false appearances”. Often this is used to oppress us further. We are damned if we “pass” and damned if we dare to stand out.
I for one will not be quiet about it. I will never rest until we are treated with the same dignity and respect that ALL human beings deserve to be treated with.
It is unlikely I shall ever get any rest until I find myself ensconsed in the quiet of the grave.