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.
A transgender San Francisco woman with a criminal history stretching back more than 20 years could be sentenced to life in prison after being charged in a November 2011 home burglary.
Felipe Valdez-Tejera, 51, was on parole when she allegedly entered the home of a sleeping Russian Hill couple, whose baby was about three months old and also in the residence.
In late June, she pleaded not guilty in San Francisco Superior Court to felony charges of first-degree residential burglary, and receiving or buying stolen property.
She has denied all allegations in the case.
Valdez-Tejera has been convicted of similar crimes three times before, which would make this her fourth strike. Under California’s three strikes law, she could have already been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Deputy Public Defender Sangeeta Sinha said after years of physical abuse and drug addiction, Valdez-Tejera, who’s originally from Cuba, is finally seeking help and should get a chance at treatment.
Most recent incident
According to the police report, an officer responded to the alleged burglary at about 3 a.m. November 17.
The 32-year-old victim reported that he was awakened by his wife’s scream, saw Valdez-Tejera, and chased her out of the house, which is in the 1400 block of Green Street. When he got outside, she had a brown shoulder bag that held two laptops, according to the police report. She and the victim eventually ran toward responding police and Valdez-Tejera was soon taken into custody.
Sinha is hoping Valdez-Tejera will be permitted to enter treatment rather than go to prison. For that to happen, she’d have to be granted probation.
“She’s never had an option of treatment while she’s been incarcerated,” Sinha said.
Sinha provided a copy of a May 14 letter from Haight Ashbury Free Clinics-Walden House, a local agency that provides substance abuse treatment and other services, saying that Valdez-Tejera has been accepted into its residential program. The letter says, “Walden House is a six months to variable length program.” A Walden House staffer didn’t verify that the agency had submitted the letter.
“Neither I nor Felipe is naive enough to believe she wouldn’t have a state prison sentence suspended over her head as an incentive to comply with probation, and as punishment if she did not,” said Sinha, who said that seeking Walden House was Valdez-Tejera’s idea.
Sinha acknowledged that Valdez-Tejera has had years to get help.
“I think before we as a justice system are going to, in essence, wash our hands of someone and throw them away in the prison system, I think we have an obligation to try to offer services or a program,” she said.
Sinha said Valdez-Tejera “has seen much tragedy in her life,” and she’s “a person to whom life has been very cruel.”
In an interview Monday, July 9, in San Francisco County jail, where she is being held without bail, Valdez-Tejera said, “I’m not evil,” and talked about her past.
As a boy in Cuba, she put on make-up and was attracted to men. She described mistreatment, including physical abuse, by her family, and she indicated that her mother told her that she wished she’d never given birth to her. Sinha said Valdez-Tejera was arrested when she was 15 and spent several years in prison because of her sexual orientation.
Sinha said that in 1980, Valdez-Tejera became part of the Mariel boatlift, during which thousands of people, including inmates who’d been released from prisons and mental institutions, were allowed to leave Cuba. Sinha said the description of Valdez’s life in Cuba was self-reported and records were unavailable.
Valdez-Tejera moved to Minnesota, began the process of changing her gender, and married a man who physically abused her and stabbed her, said Sinha.
She had engaged in self-mutilation since she was 12, and was also hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, said Sinha. Valdez-Tejera said she’d attempted suicide three times, and she pulled back her left sleeve to reveal numerous pale white scars. She said she’d also been raped four times in her life.
Valdez-Tejera moved permanently to San Francisco in 1986. She soon started building a list of criminal cases, according to information provided by Sinha.
In 1987, she was sentenced to probation and 11 days in jail for a misdemeanor petty theft conviction. Several other convictions followed, including three felony convictions for first-degree burglary. Most recently, in 2005, she was sentenced to eight years in state prison.
In Monday’s interview, Valdez-Tejera said that she’d also prostituted herself and worked in pornography. She’s been working on her still rough English, and frequently responded to questions with Sinha’s help. Sinha prohibited questions about the current case.
When she was asked about why she should have a chance now, Valdez-Tejera talked about using too many drugs. She said she’d used speed, crack, heroin, and pills.
She said she wants to stop her criminal activity, and she’s “too old” to still be going in and out of jail.
But Valdez-Tejera’s hopes of receiving probation and a suspended sentence in her current case could prove difficult.
“This is definitely not a probation case,” said Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office. “Based on the totality of circumstances, that type of disposition for this case is inappropriate.”
Bastian said he couldn’t comment on how Valdez-Tejera has gone this long without being sentenced to life in prison.
But as to not giving Valdez-Tejera a chance as she finally seeks treatment, Bastian said, “She has had numerous chances in life to get her act together.”
The next hearing in the case is set for Monday, July 16 for a pre-trial conference. August 24 has been scheduled as the date for jury trial.
(Seth Hemmelgarn, The Bay Area Reporter Online)
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.
Several years into my transtion about a decade ago, I thought seriously about killing myself. Life was really hard. I wasn’t passing as my true female self very well. I often was called a man as I walked down the street. I didn’t think I would ever be accepted as the woman I always knew I was, and I wanted to end it. In the note I was going to write to accompany my death, I was going to have explicit instructions about the pronouns that should be used to refer to me in death. I was going to write that I shouldn’t be referred to by the name on my birth certificate but by the name that reflects my female identity — that is, my legal name, the name I took after I dropped my old first name. (“Laverne” was my middle name, and “Cox” was my last name at birth.) I basically didn’t want to be disrespected and misgendered in my death, as all too often happens to transgender folks in news reports on our deaths.
I was reminded of that this weekend when I read the unfortunate New York Times article about the death of Lorena Escalera, a woman who died in a Brooklyn fire. The reporters were careful to use the correct pronouns when referring to Escalera but were sure to quote someone who did not use the correct pronoun to refer to her: “”For a man, he was gorgeous,’ Mr. Hernandez said, noting Ms. Escalera’s flowing hair and ‘hourglass figure.’” This is just one of many passages in the article that sexualize and objectify her. Autumn Sandeen calls attention to this in her piece on Pam’s House Blend.
In a speech I made in Albany last week, I talked about violence against transgender women of color and how our lives are not valued. This Times article is a great example of that. I didn’t personally know Lorena, but we were Facebook friends. After reading about her death, I went to her Facebook page and saw all the messages from friends of Lorena’s, friends who were devastated by the news of her death, friends who talked about her beautiful spirit and how many lives she touched. Lorena’s life mattered. Transgender lives matter.
In a HuffPost blog I wrote last month, I noted how a news outlet reporting on the brutal murder of trans woman Coko Williams showed a photo of trash to accompany the story. The Times article follows this sad paradigm: It reads, “A debris pile outside the apartment, which is above a funeral home, contained many colorful items. Among them were wigs, women’s shoes, coins from around the world, makeup, hair spray, handbags, a shopping bag from Spandex House, a red feather boa and a pamphlet on how to quit smoking.”
Reporting on trash in articles about the deaths of transgender women enrages me in ways I can’t even explain. When I wanted to kill myself, I felt so utterly dehumanized and demoralized by living in a world that was not having me. I have struggled and continue to struggle to not only have dignity and to carve out a place in the world for myself but to treat myself as if my life matters. My life matters. Transgender lives matter. Lorena Escalera’s life mattered. Rest in peace, Lorena.
K: and people who are actually in the LGBTQ community argue that trans* people don’t completely need and deserve the support of the rest of the LGBTQ community more than any other part of it?
This is horrible…….. : (
Signal boost. Wake up, world. Stop erasing trans* people.
The reality is that 41% is a conservative number. In many cases, the number of suicide attempts is 51% or higher. And these are the rates of unsuccessful attempts. Those who have successfully attempted suicide are not recorded precisely because they didn’t survive to tell about it. If 41% are unsuccessfully attempting suicide, it is safe to assume that a large number of trans people have also successfully attempted suicide.
The following is from the first link above (“Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey”):
“A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting
suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population,
with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias
(55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had low
household income, or were the victim of physical assault
(61%) or sexual assault (64%).”
Structural and institutional cissexism is found in employment, education, income distribution, and rates of physical violence and sexual assault. This is often layered with other forms of structural and institutional violence like sexism, racism, classism, Orientalism, colonialism, and ableism.
More trans people take their own lives than are killed by random strangers on the street. While we are encouraged to remember the latter every year during Transgender Day of Remembrance, the deaths of the former go largely unacknowledged by the larger community.
While 55% of trans people who have lost a job due to bias and 51% of unemployed trans people have attempt suicide, that number rises to 60% for those who have worked in the informal, underground economy, particularly those involved in survival sex.
The rates of suicide attempts in education starts at 51% for those who are bullied and harassed, but then rises to 79% for those who were assaulted by teachers or staff. Of those students who were sexually assaulted 68 to 69% attempted suicide.
These numbers also rise by race. The 41% number given above is for the overall sample. But if we look at the different racial groups we see that White and Asian trans people have slightly lower rates of suicide attempts at 38% and 39% respectively. Obviously these numbers are still outragingly high. But the numbers rise above 41% for all other races. In acceding order, suicide attempts for trans people who are Latin@ is 44%, Black 45%, multiracial 54% and American Indian 56%.
The report shows that 45% of trans people between the ages of 18-44 have attempted suicide. It would seem that suicide attempts start to taper off for trans people from 45 years on, falling to 39% for those 45-54, 33% for those 55-64 and 16% for those 65 years and over.
However, again, a survey can only record numbers for people who have survived a suicide attempt. Obviously those who succeeded in killing themselves are not going to be around report back. So not only can we assume the real percentage of suicide attempts would be much higher than 41% if it included all the successful attempts, but also that trans people who successfully attempt suicide will be removed from the population at younger ages.
This would help explain why the reported rates of suicide attempts start to taper off after trans people reach middle age. That is, it is likely that suicide attempts are preventing a significant portion of the trans population from living beyond 45 years of age.
Of those trans people who live in violent/abusive households 65% have attempted suicide. This is twice the rate of suicide attempts (32%) for those trans people who say they’re family is accepting.
For trans people who have experienced homelessness 69% had reported attempting suicide, compared to 38% for those trans people who have always experienced stable housing.
Trans People are Survivors
It’s not hard to see how all these things begin to add up. If a trans person is experiencing violence in the home they may runaway and become homeless, and if they experience violence in school they may drop out, if they are homeless and/or drop out of school they’ll have a harder time finding steady, formal employment, if they can’t find formal employment or they live on the street they may turn survival work in the sex and drug trades in exchange for food, shelter and healthcare, which can increase their chances of being imprisoned, which leads to additional barriers to survival. Anyone of these things by itself could increase one’s desire to end their own life, so think about how each of these factors feed into and reinforce the others.
With such high rates of suicide attempts in the face of large-scale systematic oppression, it is fair to say that, for many, to be a trans person in the United States is to be a survivor. This is especially true for those who are trans women, poor and low-income trans people, trans immigrants, indigenous trans people and other trans people of color.
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald is a young African American trans woman currently being charged with two counts second degree murder following an incident on June 5th, 2011. Her case has drawn international attention and sparked a groundswell of community support. CeCe spoke to PrettyQueer on December 12th.
You can also sign the petition to free her.
Tom: What has really stunned me about your story is the community support. It seems like people all over the country are paying attention to the case.
Tom: And I was wondering is that something that you feel is true from where you’re sitting? Do you feel that you‘re getting a lot of support and attention?
CeCe: Yes, actually I was just talking to some friends yesterday about having this opportunity. Because a lot of people, especially in the African-American community, tend to just take what is given to them when it comes to situations that put you in a predicament where you can’t, you know, think and actually consider things. You know what I’m saying? You’re pressured in jail. Jail will make somebody say, you know, “Whatever, just get me out of here.” So for me to have this opportunity and to get all this support and to have all this media all this media attention around the case, is an eye opener. Not just for the people who are – who might not understand you know the process of court and the judicial system and might not understand how we as LGBT people seem to always get the short end of the stick.
So all this support we have now, not just from the LGBT community, but also the Straight community and, you know, everybody now can have some understanding of the issues that Trans people face and that Gay people face. You know, how we are always singled out or just left with the worse possible decision from the pressure of jail. A lot of people don’t really hear about that or they just brush it off. You know what I am saying? like, “Oh! It is another queer person, whatever.” But it’s deeper than that because I am a person, too. I feel like this opportunity gives me a voice and not just a voice for myself but for all the people who’ve been through this.
Tom: Well, that’s the amazing thing. Your story, the actual events, unfortunately it felt like another kind of tick-mark on the box.
Tom: So that’s why it has been so amazing to me to watch, because it’s been so well covered and so well documented. It seems like you have a huge network of people who are helping. Why do you think your case was different? What’s different about you?
CeCe: Because I had people in my life from the beginning that felt that the situation couldn’t just go by without anything being said or without a fair trial. Because, like I said, many times when you are in jail, specifically with GLBT people, we tend to just take the deal that is given us. Do you know what I’m saying?
CeCe: And a lot people don’t have time to think it over and consider the consequence or the alternative. So the people in my life, they – from knowing me from moving up here and knowing my story, knowing my history, they felt that this was worth the fight. I’ve come so far in my life. Just to know that I might be going through this, but there are people behind me and that I do have options and that I don’t have to take what is given to me. I am glad that I have that I have all these people in my life because at the moment when that happened I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do and I was just a wreck. Luckily I had those people there to piece me back together and to give me strength and tell me how to handle this situation.
Tom: So who were these people? Can you name names, like just the two or three most important people who changed the circumstance for you?
CeCe: One person, of course, was a case manger of mine. Her name is Abbey Beasley and she used to work at a non-profit organization called SafeZone. I used to go there when I was younger to, you know, get on my feet and look for school and for work and she was my permanent manager until the time when I was too old to have a case manager and be there. But she stayed in my life afterwards and our friendship and our connection grew so much closer. So, you know, when she heard the story, she got everyone involved.
Tom: That’s amazing. So that’s someone who had previously been a service provider and then became a friend. Are there other friends that are just people you know from, like, your social life that have been people who have been really active in it? Where was your network of support, where‘d that come from?
CeCe: My support came mainly from my family.
Tom: Your family?
CeCe: Yes, mainly from my mom. She doesn’t live in the state, all my family stays in Chicago, but I keep in contact with my mom. And they were the people who gave me the inspiration to keep pushing and keep fighting, you know, keep faith and just stay focused.
I am most definitely glad that I have such a wide variety of people in my life right now that’s supporting me, not just my family, but the organizations and the support from people at other states. It gives me the motivation and the inspiration to, you know, have a voice and to fight. I can be the voice for a lot of people right now and that’s my main objective. I want people to understand that this is an issue and that, you know, our society needs to change so that everyone can live freely and happily. Everyone has their own life to live and I’m just trying to live mine just like everybody else, you know?
Tom: Yeah, of course. So, I was surprised that you wrote a letter to the local newspaper from jail.
Tom: How did you decide to do that?
CeCe: Well, I wrote the letter in an effort to challenge the tone of things as far as my persona and how I wanted people to view me. When this first happened I didn’t really have access to the news. I was in seclusion, there was no TV in the unit where I was. I was basically in “the hole.” They said it was for personal protection, but I doubt that.
CeCe: I didn’t have access to newspapers. So any media that was surrounding the situation — I would call people and they would say to me like, “yeah they referred for you as a man and they’re just making you seem like a bad person,” and I didn’t want people to think that’s who I really was.
So, in an effort to give people a clearer understanding of who I am and what happened. I didn’t want people to think that I was some delinquent, you know? I’m a college student. I have so many aspirations and things that I want to do in my life. I volunteer when I can. I do a lot of stuff involving the community. I help my family in any way possible. I try to be the best person I can. I’m not going to say that I’m the best person. But, you know, everybody has a learning process.
I can say that the person that I am now is not the person they were showing in the media. You know what I am saying? It was hurting me. I didn’t want people to see me out on the street and turn their noses up at me because they had this idea of me that the media had made. It would be different if I was like, “oh yeah, I‘m an evil person.” But I’m not like that, you know? And that’s how they were making it seem.
Tom: Did you talk to your attorney before you wrote the letter?
CeCe: At that time I didn’t have an attorney.
Tom: Wow, okay. So did you consult with someone and say, you know, “do you think this is a good idea?” What was your decision making process around that?
CeCe: At the time I really didn’t think about any of that. Maybe I should have, but when you’re in a situation where you’re pressured and you’re feeling lost and confused, when someone is slandering your name and you feel like you don’t have a fair say, you’re going to find a way to get your point across. So, maybe if I had someone at the time to tell me, you know, “you should do this and that,” it would have been different. But at the time I didn’t have none of that.
Tom: So, you said at the time you didn’t have an attorney. Do you have one now?
CeCe: Yes, I have one now.
Tom: Where did that attorney come from?
CeCe: Someone referred him to me. He’s a member at the Legal Rights Center and he is an awesome lawyer. He does his best, he keeps in touch when he can, he’s been great. He handles a lot of cases other than mine, but his efforts are so wonderful. He has faith in everything. That’s the difference between having an actual attorney that’s going to check in with you and give you updates and a public defender, which is somebody that is just given to you, you know? You meet them or you don’t meet them. You are just a number to them and I don’t want to be just a number. I wanted someone be on top of my case, I wanted someone to be really cautious and concerned and very attentive.
So, I am glad now that I have an attorney. He has given me so much education on law and the justice system and just so much. So, yeah, he’s a very cool lawyer. He’s not uppity like most people think a lawyer would be. He’s laid back, he’s cool.
Tom: So you feel like you’re being treated with respect by him and he understands the case well and everything?
CeCe: Oh, most definitely! We have an understanding. He doesn’t put pressure on me. He gives me time to think and consider things and he goes over things with me so I can have a better understanding to make my decisions.
Tom: That’s great. Is he working pro bono, are you guys fund-raising to pay lawyer fees?
CeCe: Yes, actually all the attorneys at the Legal Rights Center are pro bono.
Tom: That’s great.
CeCe: Yes, and I feel like that’s also a blessing because when you’re struggling you still have bills to pay. I don’t know the last time I ever had over 25 cents in the bank account. So, yeah, this is a blessing. If you have a public defender, you are just considered a number and if you have a real attorney you‘ve got to have some digits, you know what I‘m saying? So this is good because I didn’t get just any attorney and he is very – oh! He’s just wonderful.
Tom: That’s great. That’s really great. I know you said you’re a college student, so what are you doing in college?
CeCe: I go to Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and I – my major was apparel technologies, which is a fancy term for fashion design. I’ve been in love with fashion since I was younger and it’s something that I want to turn into a career.
Tom: So what do you do when you are not being a college student? What do you like for fun or socially or whatever?
CeCe: Well, I’m kind of a home body. I like to read, I like to study and do research. Like I said, I like to volunteer when I can.
Tom: Where do you volunteer?
CeCe: Well, going back to SafeZone, where I used to go. I help some of the team there with job searches, looking for housing, you know, talk about future plans, talk as a regular person who‘s been through it, too. Before this happened I joined a church in Voda Valley, the Unity Church, which is LGBT friendly and I was starting to do more volunteer work through them.
Tom: So, I know a lot of people are probably wondering what the can do. What can people who want to help you do?
CeCe: One thing you can do is go to the Support CeCe website. There’s a list of events there. A lot of these events are dealing with white supremacy, LGBT rights and just so much that’s concerning this case. Not even just this case, but you know, our wellbeing and our justice and how we are treated and in our communities and in society.
Other than that, the love and the support is all that I need. I never imagined that I would be in this situation. You know, I’m a very strong person, I’ve been through a lot in my life and right now I‘m not giving up faith. With the support and the love from my family and the support of the rallies, the organizers, everything is positive. If you can show that you do care or that you are concerned, that would be great. If you can make it to the events, if you can just tell a friend, tell someone, tell your next door neighbor. All of that helps, all of that counts.
Tom: I don’t want to sound cliché and you probably get this a lot but you are so positive and you are so strong, how do you do it? What keeps you going, what do you think it is that makes you so different?
CeCe: Growing up trans, you know, it’s harder for you, it’s obvious that being trans is harder. I grew up in the urban community, I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy at all, you know, to be yourself without getting harassed. I’ve actually been jumped a lot in my life and I always blamed myself for that. I always said it was my fault for being gay, it was my fault I was trans. I became suicidal and, you know, attempted it but never succeeded.
I’ve been through a lot in my life that made me suicidal and so depressed. But, I had a couple of eye-openers that made me realize that I am loved and that I have a life and I’m a human too and that I can do anything a straight person can do if they allow me. So that’s what makes me so positive, not only for myself but also for the people around me. If you break that cycle being bad or being down or being depressed, you know, you can change your life.
Tom: So, I know that you’re saying people can show up to events and that’s awesome and obviously, people who are local should do that. If people aren’t local to Minneapolis, what can they do to help? Do they send money, do they send letters? What is it that’s going to make the biggest difference in your life?
CeCe: Well, as far as finances and things like that, the people who are in charge of the Support CeCe funds are still taking donations for the cost of events and, you know, organizing stuff.
Tom: People who want to give money to you for like living expenses, they can send money through that, and you are getting cash through that?
Tom: Okay, that’s great, that’s really great. You know, I’m out of questions. Red do you have questions?
Red Durkin: I had one question. You had mentioned before that people go through this all the time and it doesn’t get the kind of attention that your case has gotten. Is that something you may be planning to focus on in the future? Are you more interested in just getting your life back on track, going to school, working on your fashion design, or is this something that’s really changed your plans?
CeCe: That’s actually a good question because I’ve been discussing this with a lot of people. Yes, I’ll still be into my fashion design, but now, with everything going on maybe also taking communications in schools and being more active in the community and being some type of advocate. Just being more into the community. We need more people that are aware and involved and concerned and I am now one of those people. I always – like I said, we always you know, get the short end of the stick. Now with this situation, I’m experiencing it first hand. So, yes, when all of this over and God willing, it will be over soon, I will be more involved in community. Yeah.
Red Durkin: Absolutely, that’s great. I wish you the very best, I can’t wait to see you have the opportunity to make those things happen.
Tom: I can’t wait till we’re buying all your fashion designs at Macy’s.
CeCe: Okay! Thank you.
A radio interview about HIV, trans sex lives, and transmisogyny on Sex City on CIUT with trans porn star Drew DeVeaux, HIV researcher Caleb Nault, and trans activist/artist Morgan M. Page (me!).
A study conducted by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare has some alarming data regarding trans women who are refused breast implants: They’re more than 30 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
The study was recently cited by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL), which was condemning the board for the inconsistent way trans patients are treated in the country’s nationalized healthcare system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” a statement by RFSL read. “Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases a very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life… Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives.”
RFSL reached out the Board after a trans woman was reportedly denied implants by hospital in western Sweden
While no similar study has been conducted in the States, a 2010 survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that 41% of all trans people in America have attempted suicide, as opposed to .3% of the general population.
A new study from the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL) concludes that breast implants are literally a life and death matter for transgender women who need the operation to “fit in as women in their everyday life.” And the suicide rate among those who don’t get them is at least 30 times higher than the average person.
According to Swedish website, The Local, RFSL warns that transgender women who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment can suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
Plastic surgery for transgender patients saves lives, according to RFSL. The study shows that psychological complications for those forced to live with a body that doesn’t match their gender identity is high and the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
RFSL petitioned the National Board of Health and Welfare to draw up national guidelines for physicians and hospitals trans breast implants, after a trans woman was reportedly denied implants by the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden. “RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.
Transgender people in Sweden who are denied breast implants are more likely to commit suicide, according to an advocacy group which has urged health authorities to draw up national guidelines on the procedure.
“Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases an very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life,” the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) wrote in a petition to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
RFSL goes on to warn that transgender people who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment and suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
“Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives,” according to RFSL, citing the health board’s own findings statistics showing that the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
The advocacy group filed the petition with Swedish health authorities in response to reports that a transgender person was recently denied breast implants by a the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden.
According to RFSL, the hospital’s decision reveals inconsistencies in how transgender people are handled in the Swedish health system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group of transgender people such as this transexual group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” RFSL wrote.
The organization now wants the health board to draw up national guidelines for dealing with requests by transgender people for breast implants.
In its petition, RFSL emphasized the importance of respecting “an individual’s value and right to decide over their identity”.
“RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.
[image: an infographic titled Snapshots of transgender life that says 41% can’t change their gender on their IDs, 57% were rejected by families, 19% have experienced homelessness, 19% were refused medical care, 47% have attempted suicide. Source is available at transequality.org].
Courage comes in many different forms. For Esmeralda, a transgender asylum seeker from Mexico, who faced horrific circumstances in immigration detention, it came in the form of seeking justice. Kept in a segregated cell with other transgender detainees, Esmeralda never realized that her experience in detention would match the trauma of discrimination she had faced back home. But her story is also one of hope in its desire to create change.
Source: “Esmeralda: A Transgender Detainee Speaks Out” — Breakthrough
In 1996, Congress passed immigration reform legislation that led to the explosion of the immigration detention system. It is now the fastest-growing incarceration program in the country, leading the rapid expansion of the prison-industrial complex in the U.S. In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security detained 237,667 individuals: an average of 19,619 per day.
Christina Madraso, a transsexual woman, sought asylum in the U.S. after being badly beaten based on her gender identity in Mexico. However, her nightmare continued when she was detained in the Krome Service Processing Center, where she was placed in the men’s ward, and faced harassment by guards and other detainees. She was then transferred into an isolation unit, where she was sexually assaulted twice by the same guard. After the second rape, INS officials told her that she could either transfer to a mental institution, county prison, or give up her asylum claim.
Victoria Arellano, an undocumented transgender woman with HIV, died in an ICE detention facility in California after being denied necessary medication to prevent opportunistic infections, despite organizing efforts by fellow detainees to obtain medical treatment for her.
Source: “Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color & Trans People of Color: A Critical Intersection of Gender Violence & State Violence” — An Organizer’s Resource And Tool Kit from Incite! Women of Color Against Violence
Elizabeth Debbie “Liz” Eden (August 19, 1946 – September 29, 1987) was an American transsexual woman whose boyfriend [husband] John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank to pay for her sex reassignment surgery. The incident was made into the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon. The character Leon Shermer (played by Chris Sarandon) is loosely based on her.
Eden … and Wojtowicz were married on December 4, 1971 in Greenwich Village. At the time of Wojtowicz’s attempted robbery of a Chase Manhattan bank branch in Brooklyn, New York, on August 22, 1972, she was in a psychiatric institution, following a series of suicide attempts. Eden was not previously aware of his plans.
After the failed heist, Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 years, although he was released in April 1987; while imprisoned, he sold the movie rights to the story for $7,500 and subsequently was able to help finance Eden’s sex reassignment surgery.
Eden had attempted suicide on multiple occasions because she was unable to access a medically necessary operation. Wojtowicz robbed the bank specifically to help his wife obtain an operation that would save her life. This was in spite of the fact that Wojtowicz identified as a gay man and would no longer be attracted to Eden once she had surgery. Following his arrest, Wojtowicz still wanted to help Eden and used the money from selling the rights to his story to help fund her medical care.
It’s been 39 years since Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank in order to save Eden’s life. Yet, short of robbing a bank, most trans women still can’t afford medically necessary health care without trans-inclusive health care reform.