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.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. is searching for a man who sexually assaulted and robbed a transgender woman on Sunday [Sept 23]. The assault happened around 4:45 a.m., when a man approached the woman, hit her, and forced her at gunpoint behind a building on the 200 block of 51st St. Northeast, where he sexually assaulted her, according to The Washington Times.
Initial reports do not indicate the victim was targeted because she is transgender, but this is the latest in a string of assaults on trans people in the nation’s capital. The District of Columbia Office of Human Rights recently launched a campaign intended to raise awareness and curb violence against transgender people.
(Sunnivie Brydum, Advocate.com)
D.C. police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a transgender woman at gunpoint in Northeast this week.
The assault happened behind the 5000 block of East Capitol Street Northeast around 4:45 a.m. Sunday [Sept 23].
The Metropolitan Police Department released details of the assault Monday [Sept 24] night, saying that a man approached the woman as she was walking on the 200 block of 51st Street Northeast and struck her. He then forced her at gunpoint behind the East Capitol location and sexually assaulted her. The man also stole the woman’s purse before fleeing the area.
Last summer, a transgender woman was fatally shot and another fired upon with no provocation in a neighborhood about a mile from the site of the sexual assault.
Police described the suspect in the sexual assault as a black man in his early 20s, approximately 5-feet-7-inches tall with brown eyes and short braids. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers.(Andrea Noble - The Washington Times)
A man robbed and sexually assaulted a transgender woman in northeast D.C. Sunday morning, police said.
The victim was walking in the 200 block of 51st Street NE when she was struck by a man about 4:45 a.m., police said. The man sexually assaulted her and stole her purse at gunpoint before fleeing.
Police described the attacker as a black man in his early 20s standing about 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8 with brown eyes and short braids. He was wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and white sneaker. He was armed with a handgun.
Anyone with information about the case should call police at 202-727-9099 or text the tip to 50411.
A young Guatemalan trans woman who sought asylum in Denmark says that on her arrival she was placed in the men’s wing of an asylum seeker’s camp and gang raped by several men who forced their way into her room.
The woman, Fernanda, was placed in the male section of Sandholm - a former barracks converted into a camp for asylum seekers – because under Danish law she is classed as a man.
Speaking to the Danish paper Politiken, Fernanda said: “I was really scared. I was new to this country. I came from a foreign country and from a terrifying background, and I faced daunting prospects here in Denmark, so I said nothing.”
Fernanda said she fled Sandholm – which is half an hour’s drive from Copenhagen – that same night: “I didn’t go to the Red Cross and report it. It was them who put me there. Why should I trust people who hadn’t even bothered to listen and who had put me in that situation?
“I didn’t want special treatment but I do have special needs because of who I am.”
She also said the hormone treatments she had been taking since the age of 14 were suspended – and that over a year passed before she again received any.
The Danish Red Cross has thus far made no comment on the case. However, Anne La Coeur, the head of asylum, said there is no automatic placement in a particular type of accommodation for transgender people, though there are specific guidelines which apply when dealing with sexual minorities.
Ms La Coeur said: “Basically, a transgender woman is likely to be placed in a male dormitory – but in a private room. We would not place her in a women’s dormitory because that is definitely for women – where cannot permit ourselves to place a man.”
Alone in Denmark, Fernanda ended up being trafficked to a brothel in Jutland. It was only after a police raid on the brothel that she was taken in by Reden International, an organisation who have sheltered her for the last 18 months.
When she visited the police who were dealing with her asylum application, she says she was told that the rape she suffered was a consequence of her choice.
She said: “Being a transgender woman is not a choice. You feel you were born this way. It is not my fault, but it was as if he blamed me for being who I am.”
Ultimately, Fernanda’s application was refused and she will be repatriated to Guatemala on 17 September.
She told the paper: “In Guatemala if you are different you are cut off from your family, society and by the government. You cannot get an education. You cannot get medical treatment because if you arrive at the hospital as a woman and your papers say that you are not, they refuse to treat you even if you are bleeding to death.”
Guatemala is a staunchly Catholic country, where the church wields enormous power.
Of her enforced return to Guatemala, Fernanda said: “What I’m most afraid of when I go back isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured.”
(Christopher Brocklebank for PinkNews.co.uk)
At first glance this appears to be something right out the tabloids, but Örebro District Court Judge Dan Sjöstedt ruled that the planned rape by the attacker would have been impossible to carry out in the absence of a vagina. The attacker was instead charged with a considerably lesser crime.
According to a Swedish news report translated into English, the attacker brutally beat the victim and ripped off her pants in an attempt to rape her. A witness rushed to the scene and intervened. The police came and arrested the attacker.
While the Örebro District Court is convinced that the man was actually trying to rape the woman, they ruled that it was in fact a (cisgender) woman the man wanted to rape, not a “physical man,” and although the court considered the fact that the victim had undergone hormone therapy to change gender, it still ruled that there was no completed rape.
With the help of readers of my earlier report on the matter and comments elsewhere in the blogosphere, much of the translation to this point appears to be factually correct.
Swedish readers say the rapist was instead charged with battery and sentenced to four months in jail. He was also fined 15,000 Swedish kronor, which goes to the victim. There is also a chance he may face further charges.
To no surprise, reaction to this decision from the trans community has mostly been one of disgust and outrage: A rape is a rape, vagina or no vagina, most seem to be saying. Some have wondered if the interruption factored into the decision; others say the ruling renders trans people subhuman if only vagina-seeking rapists can be charged with rape.
Complicating the matter is the Swedish judicial system: It’s not thoroughly understood by many of us; however, some say that a better outcome for the victim may surface down the road. In short, in the Swedish system, lower-level judges are often likely to just follow the letter of the law and then pass it along to a higher court to handle the intent of Swedish law.
While this is not a good precedent for trans people, obviously, I am hoping that international transgender organizations look into this incident. I also look for a more detailed news report into this incident, hopefully one in English, as well, as half the time spent on this matter involves correctly interpreting the translation.
(Courtney O’Donnell, Huffington Post)
Sweden may have some very forward looking laws and views when it comes to the violation of [cis] women’s rights, but apparently they are still fairly backwards when it comes to [trans women] as well as male rape. In Sweden, a 61-year-old man was cleared of rape charges after the court ruled that the crime did not occur due to the fact that the woman he raped is legally male. The rapist stated that he was not aware that the person he was assaulting was transsexual.
Judge Dan Sjostedt of the Orebro District Court told the media that “The intended crime never had the possibility of being fulfilled.” According to news reports, the man followed the woman, attacked her brutally including ripping the victim’s clothes off and grabbing her crotch. All of this happened in front of the woman’s ex-boyfriend’s home, but the ex stopped the attack and the authorities then arrested the man. The court, though, ruled that the rape could not have occurred because they believed that it was impossible to commit the crime.
Sjostedt stated “We believe that he wanted to rape this woman in particular. But as she turned out to be a man [sic], the crime never was actually committed.” He called the rape ‘invalid’ and stated “There are different theories about how this should be handled, and so we’re looking forward to seeing the verdict from the Court of Appeals.”
The attacker still got charged with assault, was convicted, and faces up to four years in prison and must pay more than $2,000 in damage to his victim.
Sweden was the first nation to remove homosexuality from the mental illness rosters, and same-sex marriage is legal in that nation, along with LGB military service and adoption. Unfortunately, Sweden treats transsexuals very poorly and has a blind spot when it comes to the issue of male-male rape. The nation still forces trans people to undergo sterilization ahead of legally changing their gender.
A transgender D.C. woman alleges in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service that she was improperly placed with male prisoners after a 2009 arrest.
Patti Hammond Shaw of Southeast Washington said she turned herself in to officers at the Sixth District station on June 18, 2009, after she received a letter that stated there was a warrant for her arrest for filing a false police report. Shaw claims that she showed officers her identification that proved she was legally female, but they placed her in a cell in the men’s section. She further alleges that male prisoners “asked to see her vagina, breasts and buttocks.”
D.C. police subsequently remanded Shaw, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1999, to the custody of U.S. marshals. She said she insisted that she is a woman, but Shaw claims that they insisted she was a man and referred to her by her birth name … The lawsuit states that the male marshal who searched Shaw “groped her breasts, buttocks and between her legs repeatedly and excessively.” She further alleges that other marshals made crude comments about her breasts and gender.
The lawsuit claims that marshals placed Shaw in a holding cell with approximately 30 men who were going to traffic court. “Several of the men in the holding cell touched Ms. Shaw inappropriately, verbally harassed and propositioned her, threatened to punch her if she did not show her breasts to them, and shook their penises at her,” it reads.
Shaw also claims that she was forced to urinate in a cup in “full view of the men in the holding cell.” She further states that a male detainee to whom she was chained touched her “inappropriately several times” as they went into D.C. Superior Court. Shaw said that the marshals told the man to stop harassing her and instructed her to ignore him. She alleges that the male detainee continued to harass her and the marshals “did not take any further action.”
“Going through something like this was very, very, very hard for me being a transsexual woman,” Shaw told the Blade. “I kept telling them I was a woman and they said, ‘that’s what they all say.’ They didn’t believe that I had sex reassignment surgery. They didn’t believe me at all.”
Arrestees receive a Police Department Identification Number that is linked to their name and gender when they are taken into custody for the first time.
D.C. police in 2007 adopted a policy that states trans arrestees must remain in a holding cell by themselves. Personnel are required to remain cognizant of a detainee’s gender identity and expression, and immediately notify their commanding officer if their record indicates a different gender than the one that they present at the time of their arrest. The policy further states that MPD staff should pass this information along to the U.S. Marshals Service or other law enforcement agencies that may transport a prisoner.
U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle last November dismissed Shaw’s lawsuit on procedural grounds, but she said she could pursue them in U.S. District Court in spite of her belief that they would ultimately not proceed.
Shaw’s attorney, Jeffrey Light, told the Blade that his client’s incarceration with male inmates was based on where “her genitals used to be.”
“There’s absolutely no legitimate reason for that,” he said. “Individuals have different ideas about where they would be safest. Some people want to be in a cell by themselves, some people would prefer to be in the general population with people of the gender with which they identify. It makes sense when anybody is in custody in the criminal system where they feel safest is taken into account.”
Shaw is seeking unspecified monetary damages that a jury would ultimately determine if her case goes to trial.
Light said he has met with Michael Hughes, the gay current U.S. marshal for D.C. Superior Court, to discuss the concerns highlighted in Shaw’s lawsuit. He said Hughes’ office has solicited input from the D.C. Trans Coalition on how to improve the treatment of trans prisoners while in custody.
“This was a very positive step that we were invited to work on that,” said Light.
(Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade — July 3, 2012
Trans women experience violence *as* women and/or because we are trans women. This is something long overdue.
[Poster reads: “Catharsis - Trans Women’s stories of sexual violence. Call for submissions.
Catharsis: Trans Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence is seeking written submissions from trans women who are willing to share their experiences of sexual violence and assault. The goal is to create a book-length collection of personal essays and stories from trans women about their individual experiences. Through compiling these stories, we hope to counteract the tendency of broader feminist dialog to deal with the subject of violence against trans women as hypothetical, ethereal, and comparatively minimal. We also hope that such a compilation would reinforce the place of trans women among all women and help to bring support and healing to our often overlooked communities.
Deadline for submissions is July 31st, 2012.
Online submission: http://catharsisproject.wufoo.com/forms/catharsis-submission-form/
Submit by mail: Sawyer DeVuyst - Catharsis Project / 195 Morgan Avenue / Brooklyn, NY 11237
For more information visit: www.facebook.com/transcatharsis
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org “
End of poster]
Monica Maldonado presents a re-watching of Ace Ventura that flips the script on Sean Young’s “Lois Einhorn,” rehumanizing the character a survivor of trans-misogyny:
In the face of re-contextualization I’ll say that I think Lois Einhorn is probably one of the better representations of a trans woman as a tragic character that’s been done. If I could re-write the film from her perspective, and cut out much of the -isms I’d take my version of her as a strong independent woman over nearly any of our modern representations, period.
Advocates praise the new Justice Department standards, though questions remain about separate rules for immigration detention, to be finalized by the Department of Homeland Security.
“There has been a lot of discrimination and violence against LGBT inmates in correctional facilities,” a senior Justice Department official said Thursday, “and DOJ has devoted a lot of attention in this rule to LGBTI issues because of these unique vulnerabilities.”
Among the final rules pertaining to gay, transgender, and intersex inmates, per DOJ:
-Agencies must train security staff in conducting professional and respectful cross-gender pat-down searches and searches of transgender and intersex inmates.
-Transgender and intersex inmates must be given the opportunity to shower separately from other inmates.
-In deciding whether to assign a transgender or intersex inmate to a facility for male or female inmates, and in making other housing and programming assignments, an agency may not simply assign the inmate to a facility based on genital status.
-LGBT and intersex inmates cannot be placed in dedicated facilities solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Timed with the final rules, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released sobering figures Thursday on the incidence of prison rape among gay and bisexual inmates. According to a survey of former state prisoners conducted in 2008, 39% of gay male inmates reported that they had been assaulted by a fellow inmate, compared to 3.5% of heterosexual male inmates.
About one third of bisexual male inmates also reported that they had been sexually assaulted, while lesbian inmates reported incidents of sexual violence perpetrated by staff at twice the rate of female heterosexual inmates. The survey did not include transgender individuals, who by all accounts are among the most vulnerable to sexual assault in prison.
“This is absolutely lifesaving work,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said of the Justice Department’s rules. “Transgender people are 13 times more likely to be assaulted in prison. … This is about how we protect vulnerable people, how we protect against HIV transmission, and how we end the misery and horror of sexual assault in prison.”[Full Article]
male to femaletransgender edwoman says “she ”was not only harassed while in a holding cell, but also says that deputies did little to protect her.Janelle Phares says that another inmate touched her chest and mocked her while at the jail in Norfolk last week."We all make mistakes. We all have to pay for our mistakes, but while paying for our mistakes, we shouldn’t be subject to sexual harassment or being violated," said Phares.She pleaded guilty to a larceny charge for stealing vitamins for her hormone therapy.Phares says she has had some surgeries for her transition to a female but hasn’t hasn’t had major surgery. Her license still classifies her as a male."She came in with some padding on and some tights and maybe the appearances of being a female, but her body parts suggest she’s still a male," said Paula Miller of the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.Miller also pointed out that Phares complained about the incident after she was released from the holding cell."The only reason why I didn’t say anything to the deputies while in custody was because when I first went into custody another deputy had made a mockery of my lifestyle, so I kind of felt uncomfortable and was already was in fear of my life because of what I had done," added Phares.Deputies say that Phares still has the option to take out a warrant against the other inmate.Phares says she plans to wait on filing the warrant and filing a lawsuit against the City of Norfolk until after her petty larceny charge is settled.Attorney Mike Goodove says that the jail and the courts have the discretion to separate inmates like Phares."Safety of the inmates is certainly a concern, and the jail has to balance the number of inmates the population inmates because of safety concerns," said Goodove.He added, “From a legal perspective, the jailer in this case the Commonwealth, the sheriff is clothed with a certain amount of discretion they can exercise.”
"Republicans are willing to throw away the entire law now that it helps protect lesbians, gay men, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans. Do they believe acts of violence committed against these groups don’t matter as much?”
[Trigger Warning: Discussing the Violence Against Women Act, Rape, Sexual Violence, Violence]
In late November, 2011 the United States Senate introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAMA) for reauthorization. But with…a few changes. In a monumental show of empathy and step towards extending services to all victims. Essentially the grant monies that the VAMA offers would be denied to those who denied service to groups that are often prevented from receiving any care during a crisis. So, a rape crisis center that receives federal monies, and denies care/services to a lesbian would be subject to losing those monies.
The really amazing, and unexpected part of this was that they also included “gender identity” in the protected classes. Now, my reservations with the term aside, it’s the current accepted legalese for what essentially boils down to “trans status.” So without any protest, without any teeth pulling, without any glitter bombing…the Senate, out of its own back pocket, pulls out a bill that could possibly go monumental lengths to improving trans people’s, and particularly trans women’s, lives.
Without diminishing the importance of the inclusion of all the other minorities and protected classes listed, all of which either apply to me, or my family, I’d like to focus in on the singular point of trans inclusion. As survivor, I connect particularly with this issue.Denied
Trans women have, historically, been denied access to resources.[Follow the link to read the full article.]
Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act runs into Republican roadblock in Congress
In Washington, The US Senate began debating a bill today to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act through 2016. The Act funds many programs for domestic violence and rape survivors. But new provisions aimed at protecting gay and trans women, undocumented immigrants, and Native American women have drawn opposition from Republicans, which has put the passage of the Act in jeopardy. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein reports.
A Senate panel approved LGBT-inclusive legislation on Thursday that would extend and strengthen programs working to combat and prevent domestic violence.
The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out the legislation, known as Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, on a party-line vote of 10-8. The bill aims to strengthen and improve programs authorized under the existing law — first enacted in 1994 — to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) spoke highly of VAWA in his opening statement and said no other statute “has done more to stop domestic and sexual violence in our communities.”
“As a prosecutor in Vermont, I saw firsthand the destruction caused by domestic and sexual violence,” Leahy said. “Those were the days before VAWA, when too often people dismissed these serious crimes with a joke, and there were few, if any, services for victims. We have come a long way since then, but there is much more we must do.”
According to a statement from the committee, among the ways the bill builds on existing law is setting aside grant money for programs addressing sexual assault crime and enhancing training for officials to identify high risk offenders who could commit domestic violence homicide.
But the legislation also has enumerated protections for victims of domestic violence in the LGBT community. The bill would make grants available for programs providing services to LGBT victims of domestic violence. Additionally, the bill has non-discrimination language prohibiting VAWA grantees from discriminating on the basis sexual orientation or gender identity.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, thanked the committee in a statement for passing legislation that has specific language related to the LGBT community.
“Victims of domestic violence need assistance, not irrational barriers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Solmonese said. “We thank the members of the Judiciary Committee that have recognized the discrimination LGBT domestic violence victims face when seeking assistance. Specifically, Chairman Leahy has shown great leadership in reauthorizing VAWA and ensuring that the bill would explicitly make grants available for service providers doing innovative work with LGBT victims.”
But Leahy also chided Republican members of the committee for voting against the legislation for reasons that possibly alluded to the LGBT protections in the legislation.
“Some are saying we seek to protect too many victims,” Leahy said. “One thing I know from my time as a prosecutor, and I would hope it is something we can all agree on, is that all victims count. All victims deserve protection. That is a message we have heard loud and clear from our states and something I hope is common ground.”
According to the committee, the panel vote marks the first time when it has reported out any version of VAWA on party-line basis. A statement from the panel says no GOP committee member voted in favor of the bill despite weeks of negotiations and the adoption of three Republican amendments.
When the bill was first passed —and in two subsequent times when the legislation was reauthorized — the measure passed the committee on a bipartisan basis, according to the committee.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking Republican on the panel, said in his opening statement that the LGBT language was among the reasons why he couldn’t bring himself to support the bill.
“The Leahy substitute would prohibit discrimination by grantees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Grassley said. “Of course, I agree that shelters and other grant recipients should provide services equally to everyone. But advocates of this provision haven’t produced data that shelters have refused to provide services for these reasons. This is true even after we were told they would send a report on the subject. The provision is a solution in search of a problem. Instead, it is only a political statement that shouldn’t be made on a bill that is designed to address actual needs of victims.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, a survey published last year by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found LGBT people often experience discrimination when seeking assistance in domestic violence cases.
The survey found 85 percent of service providers say they’ve worked with victims who were denied services because they were LGBT. Among the advocates who’ve worked with LGBT people who were denied services, 91 percent had worked with victims that had been denied direct services from a domestic violence organization and 64 percent had worked with victims that were denied services from law enforcement.
Although no Republican committee members voted for the bill, it does have support from other GOP senators who aren’t on the panel. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation. Among the 34 co-sponsors of the legislation are Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
The office for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) didn’t immediately to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on when a floor vote for the legislation would take place.