As the title suggests, everything on this blog concerns violence against trans women.
The Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist project addressing issues of systematic, institutional and interpersonal violence and oppression experienced by trans women (those who were coercively assigned male at birth and identify or are identified as women/female) across multiple identities (e.g., race, class, dis/ability, citizen-status, nationality, sexuality, age, HIV status, and form, status, or age of transition, etc.)
Ida Hammer is a writer and social justice communicator. She organizes the Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project. She presents workshops and trainings on cis privilege and being a trans ally. She's also involved in organizing against sexualized violence. She's a proud dyke-identified trans woman and an organizer of the New York City Dyke March.
Cissexism is evident in variations of the belief that, “In a perfect world, trans people wouldn’t exist.” Sadly, it’s not uncommon for trans people to hear this from acquaintances. Presumably more people think this, but understand that telling someone you think the world would be a better place if there existence were negated is fundamentally fucked up.
Less often do you hear the opposite. That is, you rarely ever have someone say, “In a perfect world, trans people’s existence would be affirmed and would never be questioned.”
Beliefs become manifest in the world through actions and norms. The former belief will influence a society that is inherently antagonistic to the existence of trans people. This is the current status quo. We have an entire social structure that insists on endlessly forcing trans people to prove we actually exist, and still doesn’t accept this reality in the face of any amount of proof.
The latter belief would influence a world that is supportive and affirming of trans people’s existence. Yet a world where the lived reality of trans people is trusted and unquestioned is beyond the imagination of those cis people who prefer to think “perfection” is the negation of those different from themselves.
In 1979, Black women were being murdered in Boston. The murders started in January and by April six cis women had been killed. By June, 13 cis women were dead, 12 Black and one White.
Boston Police showed little interest taking the murders of Black cis women they alleged to be prostitutes seriously. So the Combahee River Collective, a Boston Black feminist organization, other Third World feminists as well as White antiracist feminists all with a political understanding of how violence against women is both racialized and sexualized started to organized and rally around the murders of these cis women. Out of this the group CRISIS, with a focus on self-help and community involvement, and the Coalition for Women’s Safety, a coalition of Black, Latin@ and White working to develop programs for community safety, were formed.
Throughout the organizing, Black and Third World feminists encountered conflicts with how the murders were being narrowly framed. Some within the community treated the murders as purely racial, downplaying or ignoring the obvious gendered and sexualized aspects of these killings. And male paternalism contributed to the proposal for Black men “to protect their women.” There were also racial barriers that complicated alliance building between White and Black women over the murders.
To address these and other issues concerning the political consciousness within the communities affected by the murders, the Combahee River Collective produced a pamphlet addressing the question: “Why did these women die?”:
In the Black community the murders have often been talked about as solely racial or racist crimes. It’s true that the police and media response has been typically racist. It’s true that the victims were all Black and that Black people have always been targets of racist violence in this society, but they were also all women. Our sisters died because they were women just as surely as they died because they were Black. If the murders were only racial, young teen-age boys and older Black men might also have been unfortunate victims. They might now be petrified to walk the streets as women have always been.
The pamphlet goes on to give some statistics and notes:
These statistics apply to all women: Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, old, young, rich, poor and in between. We’ve got to understand that violence against us as women cuts across all racial, ethnic and class lines. This doesn’t mean that violence against Third World women does not have a racial as well as sexual cause. Both our race and sex lead to violence against us.
It’s now 35 years later and I see strong parallels between the sort of organizing that took place around those 13 women and the sort of organizing we need to be doing around the murder and violence taking place against trans women of color.
Within the LGBT community the murders of trans people are talked about like they are solely cissexist or anti-trans based. But like the Combahee River Collective’s analysis of the Boston murders of Black cis women, we need to have an analysis that accounts for the fact that almost all murdered trans people are women or on otherwise on the trans female spectrum, and that the vast majority are women of color. It’s important that we understand that trans people are being targeted as much for their gender identity and race as for the fact that they are also trans.
While the analysis of LGBT organizations tends to be too narrow, the attention these murders get from most feminist and antiracist organizations is virtually nonexistence. The framing of these these murders as simply due to the victims’ transness or sexuality is not helpful to the extent that it lets feminist and antiracist organizers off the hook by being able to say it is only a “trans issue” as opposed to also a women’s issue or a racial issue.
When it comes to violence against trans women, it’s time we start taking the question “Why did they die?” more seriously. We need to move beyond events like “Trans Day of Remembrance” that intentionally erase the gendered, racialized and classed analysis of why certain trans people are being killed. Even “Trans Day of Action,” while including an analysis of race and class, is often seen by participants and onlookers as solely a trans march, as opposed to also being a women’s march and a people of color march.
Even suggesting that organizing center trans women of color specifically is a radical notion. This doesn’t mean that White trans people, trans men and nonbinary people don’t also experience violence and oppression. Of course they do. But I also think there is a serious danger of falling into the trap of looking at anti-trans violence in primarily race- and/or gender-neutral terms. I think this is where the need for a trans feminism of color/antiracist trans feminism comes in.
We also need to move beyond “transphobia” as the way of framing anti-trans violence. Transphobia denotes an individual prejudice and has a taint of victim blaming that reinforces concepts like “trans panic.” I suggest we replace this with “cissexism,” which is better at denoting what is actually an issue of cis power, not just prejudice or a negative attitude about trans people.
Support Monica Jones and De-fund Project ROSE
Phoenix, Arizona has some of the most severe prostitution laws in the United States.
According to a municipal statute titled ‘manifestation’, an intent to commit prostitution includes activities like waving at cars, talking to passers-bys, and inquiring if someone is a police officer. Mandatory minimum sentencing and felony upgrades make it highly probable that workers are funneled into the prison system for sex work related offenses. Alongside Arizona’s already brutal racial profiling laws, these anti-prostitution statutes enable police to profile and harass people of color, immigrants, people in poverty, and LGBTQ people.
The History of Project ROSE
Since 2011, Phoenix police, prosecutors, and professors from the Arizona State University (ASU) School of Social Work have been collaborating on a program titled Project ROSE (Reaching Out to the Sexually Exploited). Over two weekends per year, up to 125 police officers detain community members that are suspected of being sex workers. Even though the police and Project ROSE founders state that the individuals apprehended are not technically arrested, the Phoenix ACLU has stated otherwise-they are handcuffed and brought to the Project ROSE command post and are confined to a room to speak with a Project ROSE volunteer and a city prosecutor. Arrestees cannot speak to a defense attorney, even though they are being held without the constitutionally mandated option of being able to leave freely. People who qualify (only those with no outstanding warrants, those who have not completed a prior diversion program, and not in possession of any drugs at the time of arrest) are told they can take a diversion program run by Catholic Charities that can last as long six months. Criminal charges are held over the arrestee’s heads until the diversion program is completed. Those who do not qualify, or decline to participate in the diversion program, are sent a court summons in the mail and face criminal charges.
Project ROSE harms sex workers.
By teaming up with police and prosecutors, sex worker diversion programs like Project ROSE increase the profiling and targeting of vulnerable communities — poor communities, people in street based economies, and communities of color. Trans women of color are disproportionately impacted. Rather than making sex workers safer, diversion initiatives cause harm by funneling them into the criminal justice system. Project ROSE and programs like it violate ethical standards in social work and perpetuate the idea that individuals who sell sex are not human. Further, Project ROSE frames its work as saving sex workers — who are stigmatized as scarred victims rather than people with civil and human rights (the right to work, the right to be free from violence, the right to due process and much more). This “savior” mentality makes no distinction between people who are subject to human trafficking and those who engage in the sex trade to support themselves and their families. Project ROSE results in increased vulnerability and fear on behalf of sex workers, violating their rights while driving them into the criminal justice system. Similarly, Project ROSE may also violate the rights of victims of trafficking, and may not adhere to best practice standards for the treatment and care of trafficked persons set out by human rights advocates.
Who is Monica Jones?
Monica Jones is a trans activist and sex worker rights advocate who lives in Phoenix; she is also a student at ASU who recently gained entrance into the university’s School of Social Work.
During the Project ROSE stings in May 2013, Monica spoke at a community event protesting Project ROSE. The next evening, as the Project ROSE stings continued, police arbitrarily arrested Monica and charged her with violating a vague anti-prostitution statute. Monica is standing up for her rights in court and her trial date is on March 14, 2014. It is of the utmost importance that we stand in support of Monica and all others whose human rights are being violated by the police and prison system with the support of programs like Project ROSE. Ultimately, we must get Project ROSE’s mass arrest program off the streets of Phoenix and bring an end to police harassment and profiling everywhere.
Since her arrest, Monica and others have continued to protest Project Rose. As a trans woman of color, Monica has been especially ssingled out for police harassment. Police have approached her three times when she’s been near her home or walking around Phoenix, and the most recent time she was handcuffed again and under suspicion of “manifestation”. Monica’s case proves that Project ROSE is harmful.
Project Rose is planning its next sting operation in February. ASU has hosted several summits on “sex trafficking” and Project ROSE is being hailed as the new model for preventing sex work across the United States. Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-Phoenix), the Best Practices Policy Project, and other harm reduction and trans activist groups are uniting to stop Project ROSE and put an end to this coercive and unethical model of policing, and to change Arizona sex work laws.
SWOP-Phoenix and the Best Practices Policy Project have recently filed a report of civil rights violations to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Arizona sex workers. We invite you to join us in speaking out against unjust criminalization programs like Project ROSE.
Please sign this letter to make your voice heard against Project ROSE and the collaboration between ASU School of Social Work and the City of Phoenix.
The pledge to support Monica Jones and protest Project ROSE
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, protest the coercive and criminalizing tactics of Project ROSE. We believe that Project ROSE stigmatizes sex workers as victims rather than people with agency and rights. Further, we believe that Project ROSE causes far more harm in the form of incarceration and forced “reeducation” than it does good. We demand that Arizona State University cease its partnership with Project ROSE, and that Project ROSE is ended entirely.
We demand that the resources allocated to Project ROSE are channeled to developing sex worker led, non-coercive models to support the health and safety of sex workers that promote harm reduction and improve occupational health, safety and working conditions rather than criminalizing and profiling vulnerable communities.
We are alarmed at the targeting of a human rights defender- Monica Jones- who is standing up for the rights of people unfairly targeted by the police and prison systems. We demand that the criminal charges against Monica be dropped, that an independent monitoring body launch an investigation into police harassment against her, and that she be protected from further abuse and harassment by police.
We are united in calling for an end to the pattern and practice of racist and transphobic policing across the United States, and we commit ourselves to working for a society where people of all backgrounds and identities are free from police abuse and discriminatory arrest.
**I wrote this over the summer, but am thinkin’ about it again**
In light of the rash of queer bashing that’s plagued New York this summer, I feel the need to talk about my experience with harassment as a woman and as a trans person. I’ve lived in many places, some of them “safer” than others, but I have always been exposed to a certain level of harassment and the threat of violence (I have never been physically attacked *knocks on wood*) Like it or not, I am often read as female in public and that exposes me to the harassment that comes with being female in our society. I say “like it or not” because there are plenty of people who DON’T like it, who don’t believe it, who refuse to accept that any part of my lived experience could be “typically female.” (Google “trans critical feminism” if you don’t know what I mean.) I don’t care whether strangers on the internet believe me or not, though. This is my daily life, not a gender theory class. I get cat called often. Sometimes men literally make the same noises at me that I would use to get a cat’s attention. Today, a man repeatedly called out to me “looking good!” He eventually shifted gears to “I’m trying to compliment you, bitch,” when I wouldn’t acknowledge him. I’ve been called every ugly word there is for “woman” by men who somehow think this will get me to go home with them. I have literally had a man scream right in my face at the very top of his lungs, “I WANT YOUR PUSSY!” I’ve been propositioned in the grocery store, at work, on the bus, on the sidewalk. This is not a unique experience, it literally happens to millions of people every day.
I often face another form of harassment, though. When I first moved to New York, a 12 to 14 year old boy on the subway said of me, “What is that thing?! If I had a sledgehammer, I would fuckin’ kill that thing!” The reality was that he (who was +/- 100 lbs smaller than me) wouldn’t have done ANYTHING with a sledgehammer, had he possessed one. It was the sentiment that horrified me, terrorized me, and made me afraid to leave my house again for days. When I am read as trans, I am exposed to an even greater level of dehumanization and potential violence. I take for granted that my community knows about this, but find more often than not that people are shocked when I share these stories (which are mild by comparison to the experiences of some.) Just a few days ago, outside of a restaurant in my neighborhood, a group of men (thinking I was listening to music) loudly asked one another how much they’d have to be paid in order to “fuck [me] up.” They were calling me “it” and one of them said he would do it for $100. When I’m seen as a cis woman, I have no agency and I have no privacy. My space, time, conversation, and attention are not my own. They are owed to men, who feel entitled to demand them from me at any time. When I’m seen as a trans woman, I’m seen as literally devoid of humanity. At best, I get laughed at and stared at. At worst, people casually discuss murdering me as easily as they complain about the weather. This is constant. This is why I wear headphones everywhere I go. And I’m nowhere near as vulnerable as some. I’m white and I’m big. A man once shouted at me, “damn, girl! You look like you could knock someone the FUCK OUT!” I’ve had people throw balled up paper, trash, even bottles at me, but I’ve never been in an actual physical confrontation with an attacker on the street. I’m both lucky and privileged in that regard.
I don’t have a point, really. It’s just that attention to street harassment that’s come up in the last few weeks has left me preoccupied with this. I also wonder how many people in my social network who aren’t trans women have considered this double-bind and how it plays out in the lives of trans women. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
TL;DR Shit’s rough out there and people are awful.
Trans Women Resume Hunger Strike: Amazon and Caterina LePre (Cat) had been hunger striking because of anti-trans discrimination that was preventing them from being able to share a cell even though male prisoners in the facility have been allowed to choose their cellmates. Both women report discriminatory treatment by a feminist case worker who lied to them and used manipulative tactics to delay the cell transfer, as well as the RN monitoring their vitals who allegedly is reporting false information about their health and in one case refusing to provide medical treatment. As a result Amazon and Kat have been keeping their own records of their health information. Amazon and Cat wrote a detailed account of their ordeal which you can find in the linked post, along with how to send supportive letters to them. Additionally, they are urging people to call the warden. (Tobi Hill-Meyer, Bilerico Project, Oct. 21, 2012)
Trial starts in attack on trans woman: [The victim is misidentified in the linked article as a cross-dressing man. Since the victim lives and presents as a woman that is why we are identifying her as such here.]The trial of Brian Jeremy White, accused of armed robbery and aggravated assault in a Sept. 11, 2010 attack on Hayes, began before 12 jurors and two alternates Tuesday. The grand jury report stated that Hayes’ “handbag/purse” was stolen by White and that White shot Hayes in the left leg during the crime. Following opening arguments, Hayes took the stand. An attorney in the audience described Hayes’ clothing, a black and white pattern blouse and black slacks, as being more a transgender style than cross-dressing. (Pete Skiba, Albany Herald, Oct. 23, 2012)
Judges hear gender reassignment appeal from incarcerated trans woman: Attorneys representing a trans woman prisoner Ophelia De’Lonta filed an appeal with a three-judge panel at the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, in an attempt to win her gender reassignment surgery. Bernadette Armand said that ”the treatment [Ms De’Lonta has received] has not been constitutionally adequate,” and went on to say that refusal to provide gender reassignment as a treatment for her gender dysphoria meant they were violating her Eighth Amendment rights. “The record reveals that Ms De’Lonta’s distaste for her own body is so severe that while in prison, she has mutilated her genitalia more than 20 times in attempts at self-castration.” (Joseph Patrick McCormick, Pink News, Oct. 24, 2012)
Trans activists honored in Clarion Alley mural: Tanya Wischerath inscribed on the wall, along with bios of each of the women portrayed:
The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. This incident was one of the first recorded transgender riots in United States history, preceding the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. Although San Francisco continues to lead in the struggle for equal rights for the LGBTQI community, trans women are often left behind and in the fight for visibility. This mural is a dedication to the work of just a few trans activists out of many who have tirelessly committed themselves to paving the way for a more just, accepting, and righteous San Francisco.
(Caitlin Donohue, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Oct. 24, 2012)
Valjean Royal, transgender person of color 40 years in the PIC: Valjean Royal has been incarcerated for 40 years for a murder many realize she did not commit. She has exhausted all of her appeals, but as a trans woman of color the cards seemed always stacked against her. (Transspirituality, Oct. 24, 2012)
The documentary Crossing Over looks at the lives of 3 transgender Mexican women as they seek political asylum in the United States to escape transphobia in their homeland.
Francis Murillo, Brenda Gonzalez and Abigail Madariaga fled Mexico and are now living in Los Angeles to escape the stigma, discrimination and persecution associated with being transgender in the highly Catholic nation.
“There were various abuses,” Gonzalez says in the film. “They would tie me from my hands and feet to rape me, to abuse me.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)
The documentary is the first for director Isabel Castro, a Mexican immigrant who recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“I have always been passionate about immigration issues and about highlighting the reasons for why immigration is often necessary,” Castro told On Top Magazine in an e-mail. “In exploring this issue, I learned more about the extent of transphobia in Mexico and in the United States and have now become focused on shedding light on the obstacles that the transgender community faces.”
She said she expects to finish the film in January and premiere it on next year’s festival circuit.
(On Top Magazine Staff)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
A north Portland bar owner is under fire after a group of patrons say he kicked them out just because they are transgender.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is launching an investigation into the claim against Chris Penner, the owner of the P-Club on North Lombard.
Cassandra Lynn filed the complaint last month.
She and other transgender women have gotten together at the P-Club on Friday nights for the past two years, and Lynn says they’ve never had a problem.
"In two years, we didn’t have a bathroom issue, a fight, an argument - no one in our group even raised their voice," said Lynn.
That’s why when Lynn received a voicemail message from Penner, she was totally caught off guard.
Lynn and her friend Victoria Nolan met with FOX 12 Thursday.
Lynn played Penner’s message on her phone:
"Hello, my name is Chris. I’m the owner of the P-Club Bar and Grill. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m going to have to ask for you, Cass and your group, not to come back on Friday nights."
Nolan calls it blatant discrimination.
"It’s not like we had drawn attention to cause fights or we had any issues," said Nolan. "We were asked not to return and we were asked not to return because we’re transgender."
The Bureau of Labor and Industries has launched an investigation, but on Wednesday, Penner said it doesn’t make sense.
"We are a north Portland community bar that’s open to everybody who wants to come in and have a good time and has respect for my employees and has respect for the place," said Penner.
But on Lynn’s voicemail, Penner claims her group was hurting business:
"People think that A.) we’re a tranny bar, or B.) that we’re a gay bar. We are neither. People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be here on a Friday night now."
Lynn disputes that.
"I’ve been there since day one," said Lynn. "And there were no more people in that bar on the first Friday we were there as the last Friday we were there."
Lynn and Nolan don’t care about ever being invited back to the P-Club.
Now, they say this is all about civil rights.
"We just feel that if we go into a business, we shouldn’t be asked to leave just because we dress different."
FOX 12 contacted Penner to set up a new interview Thursday regarding the voicemails.
But after speaking with his lawyer, he declined.(FOX 12 Staff, KPTV)
Trans Women of Color - Stop the Violence PSA
featuring MsAzariyah Victoria iRockstar-Hilton
Buck Angel’s Public Service Announcement on the violence towards trans women of color. Trans people of color are at higher risk for unemployment, underemployment, discrimination, harassment and abuse in most settings.
We don’t dispute the ‘accusation’ of male privilege because we’re dumb, bad feminists, or incapable of interpreting our experience. We don’t have different opinions out of a lack of knowledge about oppression. We know our own lives, and have more options as feminists than to submit to non- trans woman authority and do its bidding.
Cis women’s and trans male spectrum people’s repeated and patronizing explanations of what our experience clearly must have been and is like bears a striking resemblance, both in form and effect, to patriarchial dominance
The Flying Brick’s explanation on why they are not hosting Deep Green Resistance, an environmental group recently interviewed on Weekly Sedition.
TW: The explanation quotes a transphobic rant from Lierre Keith.
How is this possible? An alleged rapist has been acquitted in Sweden when it turned out that his victim was a trans woman. In essence, the judge ruled that it’s not possible to rape trans women.
The facts are presented thusly: a 61-year-old man attacked a woman outside her ex-boyfriend’s apartment building. The woman and her ex fought the attacker off, and he was arrested.
But at trial, according to the slightly awkward translation, Judge Dan Sjöstedt stated: “We believe that he wanted to rape… this woman. But as she proved to be a man, his plan [would] never have been possible.”
Right, because rapists are known for being picky. An appeal is likely, so there’s that. Geez.
(Benji Douglas, Queerty)
PS: Due credits to Autumn for the concept.
[“Oppression doesn’t require intent to thrive. In fact, the way oppression thrives best is by allowing people to marginalize people without intent, as that shows that the ideologies of sexism, racism, gender essentialism or cissexism are so ingrained in you that you don’t even notice it.”]