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.
There was a post going around this morning that originally claimed there were over 1,000 murders of trans women last year, based on the 2013 NCAVP report.
In fact, according to the report there were 13 such homicides in 2012.
The poster made an edit, but still maintained…
One thing to keep in mind, from the “Limitations of the Findings” section of the report:
The vast majority of this report contains information from LGBTQ and HIV-affected-identified individuals who experienced hate violence and sought support from NCAVP member programs. Local member organizations then submitted data to NCAVP, which NCAVP compiled and analyzed for national trends. Since NCAVP only measures data collected from individuals who self-reported and from other public sources, it is unlikely that these numbers represent all incidents of violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in the United States. NCAVP’s data may particularly omit populations such as incarcerated people, people in rural communities, people who may not know about their local anti-violence program (AVP), people living where the closest AVP is too far away to reach, people who are not out, people who are uncomfortable with reporting violence, and people who face other barriers to accessing services or reporting. While the information contained in this report provides a detailed picture of the individual survivors and victims; it cannot and should not be extrapolated to represent the prevalence of hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities in the United States.
Which isn’t to invalidate anything said above, but to give an important bit of context to the report itself.
The report can be viewed in full here: http://www.avp.org/storage/documents/ncavp_2012_hvreport_final.pdf
The Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project has been following violence against trans women for three years and one thing that is for sure is that violence against trans women is seriously under reported. With murders in particular there is not even the benefit of self-reporting, as in the case of other forms of violence. Most murders of trans women are those that have been reported by (nationally accessible) media and/or community activists. If a murder of a trans woman isn’t reported (or is misreported) in the media or if she was unknown to vocal community members, then the murder goes unnoticed.
The fact is, most acts of violence against trans women are not reported, and when the are reported they are usually misreported (usually by misgendering the victim). Often it takes sensationalized account to bring these murders to the attention of the public. Additionally, most women are not connected to a vocal, organized community; even in major cities like New York and San Fransisco. As a vulnerable and marginalized population, it has to be expected that most murders of trans women are not going to be noticed.
The Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project has noticed cases of murdered trans women that were originally missed by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects. And this project is dependent on media accounts that are accessible online and easily identifiable as trans women. So, yes, the reported number of murders is just scratching the surface.
Nonetheless, 13 murdered women in any given year is itself a tragedy. Even a single murder is cause for concern! There is no need to exaggerate the numbers in order to consider this a serious problem in need of our attention. Focusing on the exact numbers may not be as important as focusing on why these 13 women where killed. While the number can fluctuate, there is less variation in who is being killed.
What we do know is that at least a dozen trans women in the U.S. will be killed in cases that are high-profile enough that we will know about them. This is a pattern found in the NCAVP reports that has been going on for years. Furthermore, we know that these are going to be almost entirely Black and Latina trans women, with very few exceptions. And that about half of these women, give or take, will have had some experience in the sex trades. We also know that they will have been killed by cis men. And it is not unusual for these women to have known their murderer and have had some form of intimate or sexual involvement with him. And it is a rarity, if it happens at all, that the man was “surprised” to learn the woman was trans.
The problem is, these murders are too often labeled simply “anti-trans,” or worse “anti-LGBTQ” or “anti-queer.” This is very misleading. If these were anti-trans murders there would be a fairly even mix of trans people of all genders, races, and economic status. When looking at the last two decades of violence, we find that a white trans man like Brandon Tina is the outlier, not the norm. The race, gender, and economic status of those killed is no less important than that she was trans.
Yet how often are these murders considered effects of institutional racism, sexism, and economic injustice as they are called “transphobic”? How often are these murders considered acts of sexual or intimate partner violence? Not often enough. In order to end this violence we need to consider the full person and the context of her life and death.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is calling attention to the fatal shooting of Kendall L. Hampton, a gender-nonconforming person who had reportedly been involved in sex work.
The 26-year-old victim was discovered in the parking lot of a Cincinnati convenience store last Saturday, reported Fox 19. Hampton was pronounced dead later that night at the city’s University Hospital. Police are currently searching for the gunman.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, along with the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, is working to determine if gender identity or race were motivators in the crime. Apart from Hampton, the coalition has learned of the murders of eight people this year who identified as transgender or were gender-nonconforming.
According to a recent report by NCAVP, 87% of reported LGBT hate-murder victims in 2011 were people of color. The organization encourages those affected by violence to contact their nearest anti-violence program, which may be found on its website.
To contact police regarding Kendall Jackson, call (513) 352-3040.
(Daniel Reynolds, The Advocate)
Offensive misgendering in the following report has been corrected.
Officers arrested a Chapin man after he threatened [a trans woman] with a crowbar, sheriff’s deputies say.
According to a Lexington County Sheriff’s Department incident report, on July 8, officers responded to Sandbar Road in Chapin for a civil dispute involving a weapon.
Upon arrival, deputies spoke with the 51-year-old victim who said 48-year-old Samuel Sroufe threatened her twice with a crowbar after she refused sexual advancements from Sroufe, the report stated.
According to the report, the first incident occurred while the victim was in the kitchen. The woman said when she looked out the window she saw Sroufe waving a crowbar and displaying a slashing motion across his throat, indicating that he was going to kill the 51-year-old transgender woman, the report stated.
Deputies say a short time later, the victim went outside to sit on the porch and Sroufe came around the corner charging at her with the crowbar.
The victim told officers at this point she was afraid for his life, so she got up and began running around a table that was outside, keeping distance between her and Sroufe, the report stated.
While fleeing from Sroufe, the victim was able to contact law enforcement.
Deputies say before they arrived Sroufe dropped the crowbar and fled the area on foot.
After a search of the surrounding area, officers were able to locate Sroufe attempting to hide in a neighbor’s yard, the report stated.
Deputies say Sroufe was grossly intoxicated. Sroufe was arrested on charges of second-degree assault and battery and public disorderly conduct.
(Tenessa Jennings, WISTV.com)
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.
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of two trans women during the last week of June 2012 in Brazil: an unidentified person in Pinhais, Curitiba, State of Parana, and Camila de Mink in Baurú, State of São Paulo.
On June 26, 2012, a burnt body was found on the banks of the River Irai, in a remote area of Pinhais. According to the information available, the body was later identified as that of a male [sic], having
his[her] nails polished and with other characteristics culturally attributed to females. The authorities have indicated that the identity of the murdered trans person has not been established.
Accoring to the information received, a few days later, on June 30, 2012, the stabbed body of Camila de Mink (registered at birth as Carlúcio de Oliveira), a 40-year-old trans person, was found in an area of street prostitution in Bauru. This is allegedly the third case of serious violence against
travestites[trans women] that took place in Bauru this year.
The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate such acts on its own initiative and to punish those responsible. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to conduct an investigation that takes into account whether this murder was committed because of the gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation of the victim.
The Commission continues to receive information on killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of violence and exclusion against lesbians, gays, and trans, bisexual, and intersex persons. In addition, the Commission notes that very frequently, problems exist in the investigation of those crimes, which involve, in part, failures to open lines of investigation into whether the crime was committed by reason of the victim’s gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation. The ineffectiveness of the state response fosters high rates of impunity, which in turn lead to the chronic repetition of such crimes, leaving the victims and their families defenseless.
The IACHR urges the State to take action to prevent and respond to these human rights abuses and to ensure that LGTBI people can effectively enjoy their right to a life free from discrimination and violence, including the adoption of policies and public campaigns and the amendments necessary to bring laws into line with the inter-American instruments on human rights.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
(July 6, 2012)
THIS is what MOTHERING looks like to us.
Call me when trying to keep your babies alive involves facing down rabid hoards telling you to die.
tell me agin about fearlessness.
Oh and when you got to bed tonight and chat with your ” best gay” over brunch in some super gentrified area of town
Thank this woman you aren’t both in jail praying for your safety.
That is what MOTHERING had to look like
tell me some more shit about work life balance….
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)
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)
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)
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.
Not the Trans Women’s Non-Violence Project. Don’t get it twisted. Trans women will defend ourselves against all forms of violence — be they structural, institutional and/or interpersonal.
I try to avoid posting about transphobia and violence on here but this is an important reminder of the dangers trans people, particularly trans women, and particularly those of color, continue to face, and the sources of this violence.
This quote is from Tiffany Woods, director of TransVision Center, where the victim of this hate crime worked. Woods is absolutely correct. Living in the margins of society leaves people vulnerable to violence.
I hope that this is prosecuted as a hate crime, but I also hope that stories like this get more publicity so people outside trans communities wake up and realize the harm that comes from the “tranny” jokes and ignorance and the othering of trans ppl that are pervasive across mainstream America.
"When attacked, both Paige and CeCe were 23-year-old Midwestern girls. Both were black transgender women. Paige was mortally shot; CeCe, a college student, was on trial, being punished for defending herself. Though in different ways, both stories tell the same truth about how society has come to accept, and even expect, the violence transgender people — especially young trans women of color — are often forced to face.
“This Spring, there’s been so much hate violence against us: Coko Williams in Detroit, Brandy Martell in Oakland, Deoni Jones in Washington, D.C., and Paige Clay in Chicago—all transgender women of color killed because of who they were.
“These are just the victims of murder and just the ones we know about. So much unreported violence occurred as well. Most decent Americans would be shocked and saddened to know how much violence many transgender people live with. We face higher levels of bullying violence, heightened domestic abuse, elevated assault by law enforcement, stunning rates of suicide attempts and off-the-scale levels of hate violence.”