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.
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)
Sylvia Rivera kicking ass on stage after some radfems & transphobes tried to refuse her the right to speak at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day rally. Said radfems then had their own march in part protesting trans participation in Pride. A precursor to today’s Dyke March.
40 years later in the very same park trans women are still fighting for space within Pride as this year’s Dyke March fiasco demonstrated. I’m feeling challenged and troubled by the narrative that trans women’s response to transphobia must take the “form of serious, calm, point by point analyses of why radfems are wrong” as Stephen Ira pointed out.
What strikes me about this video is that she isn’t trying to be calm and collected after being attacked. She’s not internalizing the notion that fighting transphobia has to take on the oppressive notion of “respectability.”
These conversations have left me wondering: has the non profit industrial complex and professionalized activism gentrified our political activity?
So within all of that, I say: nothing but love and power to trans women creating space for ourselves in queer community! Special shout out to Voz who inspired this post!
“You all tell me go! And hide my tail between my legs! I will not any longer put up with this shit!” —Sylvia Rivera
We are not going anywhere!
Sisters and brothers, friends and lovers; I think we are experiencing an important moment in the evolution of the placement of our community in relation to wider society. In the last few years in particular I think trans people have begun to take on larger and more visible roles that society had previously denied us. Simultaneous with that however has come a backlash, which has taken many different forms, both explicitly and implicitly violent.
In my home country of the United States we saw a wave of violence against trans women of color in the last few months. While this phenomenon is unfortunately nothing new, it is a stark reminder that violence is very real, and if often acts as the final act of silencing.
Furthermore, it calls attention to the often-overlooked fact that not all of us in the trans community are equally vulnerable.
Indeed, it is a sad state of affairs that the fact that trans women, and particularly trans women of color, sex workers, and those living in poverty, are most vulnerable often passes without comment, even by those who stand up, generically speaking, for “trans rights.”
That has to stop, and we all should commit ourselves to trying to build a trans community with more representative leadership of the community as a whole.
Further, there is the critical issue of prison justice here in North America that is often overlooked. Perhaps these issues are best exemplified by the case of CeCe McDonald, a black American trans woman who was attacked along with a few friends by a group of anti-trans white supremacists one year ago in Minneapolis.When this gang of thugs hurled racist and trans-misogynistic epithets at her, CeCe stood her ground… (full post)
I have recently been hearing about multiple instances of trans men and occasionally others condemning certain women’s spaces — spaces that include and are co-organized by trans women — as transphobic and even campaigning against them because they don’t include trans men. What the fuck, guys?
[tw for transmisogynistic slur]
Today someone asked me what I think of the event called “Hey tranny, it’s tranny” occuring during Seattle Pride. Here’s what I had to say
For me, it’s a lot less about the word being a “bad” word or someone being bad for using it as much as it is about being conscious and thinking through the consequences and outcomes for the community. I hadn’t heard of Hey Tranny, It’s Tranny, until you pointed me to it. I don’t want to make any snap judgments, but knowing the community here, my guess is the reason why the title is tolerated has more to do with how the concerns of trans women are not taken seriously in the Seattle queer and trans community rather than because of any kind of evolution toward it being a non-issue. Ultimately, I’d expect that the vast majority of trans women will avoid the event because of title - as well as many allies to trans women. It bothers me that the organizers, who either know or should know that will be the outcome, chose that outcome anyway. In many spaces, I take that as an indication that the support to or even awareness of trans women’s issues will be minimal and that any trans women who do go would have a strong chance of experiencing some inappropriate behavior or statements.
Many events here fail to create inclusive space for trans women. In some cases, trans women literally are turned away at the front door, in others they encourage a hostile environment, but probably the majority of queer spaces intend no disrespect while also doing nothing to dismantle the hostile environment that already exists throughout the community. Using the term tranny flippantly or without great care does not cause this problem, but it is often an indicator of where the problem might be worse.
Around midnight on June 5, 2011, a 23-year-old African American transgender woman named Crishaun “CeCe” McDonald was walking with four friends past Schooner Tavern in Minneapolis. A group of at least four white people outside the bar began harassing McDonald and her friends, calling the group, all of whom were African American, “niggers” and “faggots.” One of the men in the group, who would later be identified as Dean Schmitz, said “look at that boy dressed like a girl tucking her dick in.” As McDonald and her friends tried to walk away, Schmitz’s ex-girlfriend Molly Flaherty hit McDonald in the face with a glass of alcohol and sliced open her cheek, causing an injury that would later require stitches. The groups began fighting, and when McDonald attempted to leave the scene, Schmitz followed. McDonald took a pair of scissors out of her purse and turned around to face Schmitz; he was stabbed in the chest and died from the wound. Though she was injured in the scuffle with Flaherty and claimed the wound inflicted on Schmitz was in self-defense, McDonald was arrested that night and then charged with second-degree intentional murder.
Since her arrest last June, support for McDonald’s case and her self-defense argument has been steadily growing. According to Katie Burgess, executive director of the Trans Youth Support Network, a Minneapolis organization that McDonald was also involved with, this is because many believe McDonald was “on trial for surviving a hate crime.”
On October 7, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that McDonald refused to accept a plea deal of first-degree manslaughter. That’s when prosecutors charged her with second-degree intentional murder, a charge that can carry a 40-year sentence. But as the jury was being selected for the trial on May 2, McDonald accepted a plea offer of second-degree manslaughter, which is likely to result in a 41-month prison sentence. In accepting the plea, McDonald had to give up her claim that she’d killed Schmitz in self-defense or by accident and had to forego a jury trial. At the plea hearing, Judge Daniel C. Moreno told McDonald that because she had a weapon and Schmitz was unarmed, “the law requires that you have a duty to handle that weapon in such a way as to avoid…anyone being harmed.”
Schmitz’s family expressed grief at his death in a news report by the local Fox affiliate. Jeremy Williams, his son, said, “He always used to go out of his way to help people…He would give the shirt off his back to help people. He was, overall, a great person.” However, the victim’s brother, Charles Pelfrey, told the Star-Tribune he wasn’t surprised at the allegation that Schmitz had used racist language. “At times he can be like that, yes…It depends on his mood, unfortunately,” Pelfrey said.
During the process of jury selection, Judge Moreno denied several motions from the defense to submit details about the victim and his past as evidence, including a photo from the autopsy report showing Schmitz’s swastika tattoo and his criminal record. According to Andy Birkey in the American Independent, “The judge ruled that his criminal history was sufficiently different from his actions on June 5 and therefore could not be shown to the jury.”
The judge also ruled that the defense could not call an expert witness who would testify to transgender people’s experiences of violence in their everyday lives. For supporters like Burgess and Lex Horan, the reports that Schmitz and his friends initiated the fight that night, shouted racist and transphobic slurs, and injured McDonald bring to mind other cases of violence against transgender people—a violence that’s endemic and likely underreported, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a DC-based nonprofit that analyzes data on demographics.
On April 27, McDonald’s friend Rai’vyn Cross spoke on Democracy Now about the threats and harassment she and McDonald regularly encountered, saying, “We experience this on a day-to-day basis.” Recent research and reports on violence against transgender women have found that, in 2010, 44 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-affected hate-crime murder victims were trans women. In 2009, trans women accounted for 50 percent of LGBTQH hate-crime murder victims. A transgender woman named Brandy Martell was shot in her car in Oakland, California, on April 29, in what is being called a possible hate crime, and on April 16, a Chicago transgender woman named Paige Clay was found murdered in an alley.
For those who believe McDonald has survived a transphobic attack, the fact that she’s now facing a felony sentence and prison time is particularly upsetting. Transgender people are arrested and incarcerated at a significantly greater rate than the general population. In a 2011 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on discrimination and harassment facing transgender people, 16 percent of respondents reported they’d been sent to jail at some point in their lives. The numbers are higher for transgender women—21 percent—and black respondents, 47 percent of whom reported being sent to jail. As a point of reference, a 2003 report of the Department of Justice shows that 2.7 percent of the general American population is imprisoned at some point in life.
In a statement released after the plea hearing, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office acknowledged that it had “received some criticism from the LGBTQ community regarding this case,” but it defended the decision to charge McDonald, saying, “Gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not part of the decision-making process. The charges filed took into account the evidence in this case; this outcome is an example of the criminal justice responding proportionately to a tragic situation.”
Still, Michael Friedman, the executive director of the Minneapolis-based Legal Rights Center, which represented McDonald, says that while it’s not uncommon for murder charges to get reduced to manslaughter, the offer of a plea that could carry a much lower prison sentence is “perhaps a reflection that [the prosecutors] know there’s a lot of culpability on the part of the victims and companions of the victim in the case.” He also clarified that one-third of the sentence will be eliminated for “presumed good time” and the sentence will include the time she’s already spent in jail since her arrest. After sentencing, this could mean McDonald serves around 18 months in prison. “We have a few people in our office with 20 years of experience, no one can think of any charge of murder where [the prosecution] agreed to an 18-month additional sentence.”
The focus for McDonald’s supporters and legal team is now on her June 4 sentencing.
Which raises the question: As a trans woman, where will McDonald serve the rest of her sentence? Prison is a particularly dangerous place for transgender women. If not in protective custody or solitary confinement, they often serve time in the general male population, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault and abuse. While awaiting trial, McDonald was held in segregated custody in jail and spent some time under house arrest wearing a monitoring bracelet. McDonald identifies and lives as a woman; however, Friedman says, “there’s no way she’s going to be sent to a women’s prison.” Solitary confinement, usually used as a form of punishment within prison, is far from ideal for trans prisoners, but Friedman says, “We haven’t figured out what we’re going to ask for yet. It’s all brand new.”
Though very little about the context of McDonald’s life as a transgender woman would have been admissible during the jury trial, this case has become a rallying point for local leaders and national activists. On the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC in April, during a segment on social and economic challenges facing transgender people, author and performer Kate Bornstein talked about the case. Comparing McDonald’s actions to those of George Zimmerman, who wasn’t arrested for shooting Trayvon Martin until nearly six weeks after the incident, Harris-Perry said, “In a certain way it feels like she stood her ground.”
Over 18,000 people signed a Change.org petition, asking that Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman “honor his committment [sic], in his words ‘to serve all of our citizens with understanding, dignity, and respect’ by dropping the charges against CeCe McDonald.”
Several local elected officials also commented on the case. Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon wrote on his blog: “Here is another example [of a] transgender women of color being targeted for hate- and bias-related violence. It is unfortunate that in this case, as in so many, the hate crime itself appears to have been ignored.” According to Minneapolis Public Radio, Democratic Minnesota state Rep. Susan Allen wrote to Freeman, “urging him to remember the ‘extenuating circumstances’ of McDonald’s race and transgender, which she said ‘have cast unique question marks’ over the case.”
Lex Horan, a member of the “CeCe Support Committee,” says that approximately 30 supporters had been present in the court room each day. The judge prohibited supporters from wearing T-shirts and buttons that say “Free CeCe” and “Free Honee Bea,” McDonald’s nickname, so instead they wore purple. According to Katie Burgess, on the night after McDonald took the plea, there was a noise demonstration in which “hundreds of people marched around the jail and made a ridiculous amount of noise. CeCe said she heard us singing.” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who attended the first day of the trial, told press that, “People are being killed out there, and CeCe is being punished for not being killed.”
(By Nicole Pasulka, Mother Jones)
Trigger Warning: Rape Culture, Physical Violence, Prison Industrial Complex, Neoliberal Gay & Lesbian Events
Sylvia Rivera’s *amazing* speech in 1973 at the Christopher Street Liberation Day from my talk at the We Who Feel Differently Symposium; she gets on stage after being beaten up, boo’ed and refused speaking time to talk about the trans people left behind by the gay movement, specifically people in jail. I’m also reflecting on CeCe McDonald’s case & what it means for our movement. All the audio from the We Who Feel Differently Symposium is now available to listen and download as mp3 tracks online here: http://wewhofeeldifferently.info/ephemera.php#Symposium
Wow! and the pictures are SO GOOD! thanks to everyone who organized such a great event.
We Who Feel Differently: Journal” launched its second issue in May, “Disastrous Inclusion: Critical Reflections on the Legacy of DADT” guest edited by Ryan Conrad and featuring texts by: Karma Chávez, Ian Finkenbinder, LAGAI, Tamara K. Nopper, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. http://wewhofeeldifferently.info/journal.php
really worth checking out!
This is a beautiful talk by Reina Gossett that amplifies the voices of Sylvia Rivera and CeCe McDonald. All three of these women are huge inspirations to me and my work.
Sylvia Rivera is such a beautiful person and an inspiration. I heard about her speech in 1973 and what happened to her, but it breaks my heart to actually hear the hatred that she experienced. To hear her talking about imprisonment and rape of trans women and the crowd yelling at her to shut up. To hear her talking about women’s liberation and knowing that self-identified “feminists” physically assaulted her and that she was so devastated that she actually tried to take her own life.
CeCe McDonald’s words bring us full circle and show us how little has really changed in the last 39 years. We’re just now catching up to the greatness of Sylvia Rivera. It’s only last week new guidelines were announced regarding the issues of trans women being raped in prison that she talked about four decades ago. And this is simply the beginning. Why did has take so long? We know why. If Sylvia Rivera and other trans women revolutionaries weren’t exiled from the movement in 1973, imagine where we might be now.
RadFem 2012 is a radical feminism conference being held in London in July. Its website proclaims “women together for liberation”, but as it turns out, they don’t mean all women. RadFem’s participation policy states that the conference is open to “women born women living as women”. This is a change from an earlier policy of being open only to “biological women”, which – as one wry Tweeter commented – presumably refers to women who work best at 40 degrees. Either way, this policy clearly discriminates against trans* women who might wish to participate in the conference. A trans* woman may live as a woman, experience the pressures, discrimination and inequality associated with being woman, but according to RadFem 2012, they are not quite enough of a woman to be welcome at the conference. This, quite clearly, is discriminatory, disgusting, and – we believe, and very much hope – totally out of step with what most feminists think.
Royal Holloway Feminism Society has members who hold a wide range of theoretical perspectives on feminism – and probably even more who prefer to define themselves as “feminists” rather than as “___ feminists”. As a group, we have different views on many things, including on the importance of women-only spaces in feminist campaigns. One thing that we can all agree on, though, is that transphobia has absolutely no place in our idea of feminism. Equality and transphobia cannot live side by side: you cannot fight for one whilst displaying the other.
We are an active feminist group, and our members have attended several different feminist conferences, and many other feminist events in the past year. However, we will not be supporting or recommending that our members attend RadFem 2012, because we believe that doing so would implicitly support the transphobic stance of the conference. We would encourage other feminist groups to take a similar stance. We suggest that the organisers of the conference rethink their policy, because by excluding trans* women, they will be missing out on the participation of many passionate, dedicated feminists, both trans* and cis, who refuse to be associated with such a transphobic policy and believe that all women should stand together for liberation.