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.
While I was in Charlotte for the just concluded TransFaith In Color Conference, heard about another young African-American transwoman who has been killed in the Cincinnati suburb of Walnut Hills, OH. .
And as usual, we have another case of a n African-American transwoman beingdisrespectfully misgendered in the media, followed up by transphobic comments in the jacked up story on that media outlet’s website.
And what aggravates me even further about the developing story besides the pimping of the Black trans prostitute meme, is before I left for Charlotte had to report about another Chicago trans woman who had been killed.
WKRC-TV. read your AP Stylebook as to the proper way to report on trans persons. Umm, never mind, I’ll do it myself since you trained professional journalists can’t seem to get it right the first time.
Before I do your job for you, here’ the pertinent section of the AP Stylebook you need to pay fracking attention to since this probably won’t be the last time you end up reporting on trans personstransgender-Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.
If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.
Shortly after 10:30 PM EDT Saturday night, police were called to the parking lot of a Dairy Mart on E. McMillan Street near Victory Parkway Drive where they found 26 year old Kendall L. Hampton suffering from a gunshot wound She was rushed to University Hospital where she died
Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to call the Cincinnati Police Criminal Investigations Section at (513) 352-3542 or Crimestoppers at (513) 352-3040.
See WKRC-TV? That wasn’t so hard was it? So what’s your excuse for the piss-poor reporting in your story?
This is early info on the latest transwoman to die in 2012 Until I find out what Ms Hampton’s femme name was, I will refer to her in this and subsequent posts by her initials.
And if someone has some more flattering photos of her than this po-po mugshot or info about Ms Hampton, please e-mail it to me ASAP.
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)
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.
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.
WASHINGTON — Democrats are pushing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act this week, with an event by Vice President Biden on Wednesday and Senate debate that may begin mid-week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 2 approved the (S. 1925) reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which aims to increase the reporting and prosecution of violence against women. The bill was sponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who is not a member of the committee. Nevertheless, the legislation attracted no GOP support among committee members and was approved by the committee on a party-line vote of 10-8. The act has been reauthorized twice before and Leahy’s office said this was the first time it didn’t receive bipartisan backing from the committee.
The measure now has a total of 61 cosponsors, including eight Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office, in an email on Monday, outlined the anticipated legislative calendar for coming days, with the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization following the Buffett Rule and postal reform (emphasis added):
“We do not expect cloture will be invoked on S.2230 [Buffett Rule]. Please note S.2204, the Menendez bill to increase taxes on American energy companies, will be the underlying measure before the Senate if cloture is not invoked; however, we think Leader Reid will move to reconsider the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to Postal Reform (S.1789). Leader Reid has also indicated he will turn to the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) after postal reform. In addition, Sen. Enzi has a Congressional Review Act Resolution of Disapproval regarding NLRB ‘Ambush Elections,’ S.J.Res. 36. We will also vote on this resolution before the next recess.”
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed it was “likely” the Violence Against Women Act would be considered after postal reform, which is expected to follow the Buffett Rule. The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization could come “as early as mid-this week,” the spokesman said. That would set it up to be the main focus next week, if there is no vote right away.
Since the Violence Against Women Act was first enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent. The legislation was aimed at improving the response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Yet according to national statistics, more than three women are, on average, murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.
The Leahy-Crapo reauthorization would increase the emphasis on reducing domestic homicides and sexual assault, strengthen housing protections for domestic violence victims and focus more on the high rates of violence among teens and young adults.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and a few conservative organizations, object not to the act as a whole, but to new protections for LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse and the authority of Native American tribes to prosecute crimes.
The Leahy-Crapo bill enumerates protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by Violence Against Women Act grantees.
The reauthorization also expands the availability of visas for undocumented immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence and may be reluctant to come forward because of the risk of deportation. The act has always protected undocumented immigrants, but the reauthorization would raise the cap on visas for battered women and sexual assault victims to 15,000 from 10,000. The additional visas would come from unused visas from previous years.
Additionally, the reauthorization provides limited jurisdiction to tribes to prosecute Indian and non-Indian offenders in domestic violence cases. The tribal provision is taken from the SAVE Native Women Act, which had bipartisan support and was approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Grassley said during a Feb. 2 hearing he backs the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, but doesn’t support the Leahy-Crapo version, in part because of the provisions on LGBT individuals, immigration and tribal authority.
He has said the Republican leadership would not block the reauthorization of the law as long as their alternative bill was considered.
Democrats have said that they plan to use the legislation to highlight what they see as an increasingly hostile Republican attitude toward women.
McConnell has accused Democrats of “sitting up at night trying to figure out a way to create an issue where there isn’t one — not to help solve our nation’s problems, but to help Democrats get reelected.”
Biden, when he was in the Senate, introduced the original Violence Against Women Act, and he continues to be an outspoken advocate. On Wednesday, he and other senior administration officials will host an event stressing the need to reauthorize the act.
Have you ever heard of a case whereby a trans woman harassed a cis-woman in the bathroom or women’s changing room? Have you figured out any magical radar that automatically lets you know if someone is a trans woman or not?
Patriarchy is kind of like Procrustes. It creates these wonderful- and by wonderful I mean awful- standard stereotypes and then lops everything off that it feels does not fit. Thus, being a woman means that someone has to be, well, 5’5, svelt, with breasts large enough to fit a pair of cows, perfect hair and makeup, and the IQ of a stunned rabbit. Any other type of woman is, well, not a woman. Heaven forbid that a woman be 5’11 and built rather masculinely. It does happen. There are many cis-women who are built like trans women just as there are many trans women who look just like cis women.
Unless one spends a great deal of time around trans women, those latter ones tend to not stand out. In fact, even those who spend a lot of time around trans women are able to only suspect that, say, I happen to be trans (for the sake of things I list myself as transsexual because I am changing sexes and intersexual because of the physical abnormalities that put me between the sexes. I am also lesbian since I am attracted to other women as a woman).
Thus, it is amazing to find out that Tennessee Representative Richard Floyd has, somehow, developed a method by which he can detect trans women, but it is not surprising that Floyd has any grasp of what it means to be a human being. Floyd recently stated “…if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there – I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there – I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry. ”
This is a man who has introduced a pedophile’s dream bill by making it illegal for mothers to accompany their underage sons into the bathroom to monitor them, or fathers to accompany their underage daughters into the bathroom to do the same. That is right, rather than caring about children, he would rather ban anyone from using the bathrooms of the sex that their birth certificate does not match.
It also shows that Floyd condones the murder of his fellow humans. At one point, there were people who condoned the outright murder of Blacks, Women and Gays in this nation.
Masen Davis, the Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, stated “Representative Floyd’s threats send the message that it is ‘OK’ to attack innocent people based on their gender identity and expression. This type of hate speech incites violence and fosters a dangerous and discriminatory environment for transgender people in Tennessee. It is reprehensible for any elected official to encourage violence against people who are our friends and family and who are his constituents.”
The TLC press release goes on to say:
Injustice at Every Turn, a report byThe National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force illustrates the shocking levels of violence and discrimination transgender people face:
Fifty-three percent (53%) of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies. Respondents experienced widespread abuse in the public sector, and were often abused at the hands of “helping” professionals and government officials.
One fifth (22%) were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official; 29% reported police harassment or disrespect; and 12% had been denied equal treatment or harassed by judges or court officials.
Sixty-three percent (63%) of participants had experienced a serious act of discrimination – events that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally.
“We are extremely concerned that Rep. Floyd’s hateful and bigoted comments will contribute to violence and discrimination against transgender people in Tennessee and elsewhere,” said Matt Wood, Staff Attorney with the Transgender Law Center. “If nothing else, law enforcement and community members should pay close attention to Rep. Floyd’s comments and respond immediate if they rise to the level of criminal threats.”
This is Richard Floyd, Tennessee State Representative and sponsor of the Bathroom Harassment Act, a bill that would fine transgender people $50 for using restrooms and dressing rooms.
True to his name, the man is a dick. Here’s a direct quote from this shining example of morality:
I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.
Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.
Think Progress has a video of an interview with Dick Floyd, where he tries to state that the bill doesn’t “penalize anybody,” that it “protects everybody,” and that he could “care less” what transgender advocacy groups think.
Which begs the question, if this guy says that the bill doesn’t penalize anybody, does that mean he doesn’t think of transgender people as “anybody”?
Comments where someone openly describes, in explicit details, their cold-blooded fantasy about murdering a trans woman for using women’s sex-segregated public accommodations are not at all uncommon. You are likely to hear statements like Tennessee state Rep. Richard Floyd’s wherever issues concerning trans people’s rights to access public accommodations are being discussed.
The imagined scenario is almost always the same: A trans woman who attempts to use a women’s restroom or dressing room, in which a cis female is present, is killed in the most brutal way the speaker can imagine. It usually involves literally beating that trans woman into a bloody pulp. The person always describes their imagined self as acting out of the heat of the moment to protect a cis female, often a daughter or granddaughter.
I don’t know of any of these stories ever actually describing the trans woman doing anything to the cis female — the trans woman’s presence alone in the same restroom is all that is required. And the fact that these are pre-imagined scenarios betrays any sugestion that it is done in the heat of the moment.
Every time I hear these types of murder fantasies I immediately think of lynchings. Jim Crow and the lynchings and other forms of violence that bolstered this system of White supremacy used very similar arguments where all Black men were treated as sexual predators and threats to White women. And it should be noted that the majority of trans women killed in the U.S. each year are Black and Latina. While all trans women are threatened by these hateful, bloodthirsty fantasies, it’s Latina and Black trans women who are most vulnerable.
I also see how these sexual predator myths are increasingly being applied to very young trans girls. People like Floyd put these young trans girls at risk when they use restrooms and changing rooms or join female youth organizations like the Girl Scouts, and it scares me. Where does a person like Richard Floyd draw the line? Would he kill a 14 or 11 year old trans girl? What about an eight or five year old girl?
The lie of Rep. Richard Floyd’s bill is that it does exactly the opposite of what it claims to do. Rather than protecting women and children, it promotes violence against women and children. Only, as he tells us himself through his own murderous fantasy, Floyd and people like him don’t think the lives of trans women and children are worth anything.
A transgender woman has filed a human-rights complaint against a Sudbury women’s shelter.
Jessica Larabee — who is transitioning to female from male — claims the YWCA asked her personal sexual questions and then turned her away.
When Larabee, 23, visited her hometown of Sudbury last July, she said she had problems with her partner and called the YWCA shelter for help. After she told shelter staff she was born male, she said, she was asked a series of questions about her genitals.
“The only people who should really know what I have or what I don’t have or what it looks like — the only people who should know — are me, my partner and I guess the doctors,” Larabee said.
“They asked me if I have a penis or a vagina, if I pee standing up, sitting down — very sexual questions that if you asked someone who is not trans, I believe would be considered sexual harassment.”
Spent the night in a park
Larabee said she was then directed to a men-only shelter, but instead spent the night in the city’s downtown Memorial Park, before going home to Toronto.
YWCA executive director Marlene Gorman said she can’t comment on individual cases. But she said transgender women are not allowed in the shelter.
“Someone who identifies as a transgendered woman would be referred to another safe space,” she said.
Gorman said that policy is currently being reviewed “in terms of how we can best support transgendered women leaving violent situations.”
The Ontario Human Right Tribunal will decide in the coming months whether it will hear Larabee’s complaint.
Many trans women are targeted by street harassers multiple times a day. It often happen while simple minding one’s own business when walking down the street, buying groceries, taking public transportation, or basically anywhere and at anytime a trans woman is out in public she can be vulnerable to verbal abuse and possible physical assualt.
One trans woman who was harassed as she and her friends walked down a connecting passage in a New York City subway station had enough:
Morning after xmas on the nyc subway train, me and my girlfriends was walking to the train, dude shouted out ‘thats a man’ to my home girl and this is what happens when u disrespect a tranny [sic] in public.
The Trans Woman’s Anti-Violence Project is obviously opposed to violence, but specifically violence that systematically targets trans women. This includes the abusive verbal assaults and threats of physical and sexual violence that many trans women experience on a regular basis. The accumulative effect of constantly being attacked whenever one leaves the home has a serious impact on the health and well-being of many trans women.
Given the constant violence and harassment that trans women endure, this woman’s actions are best considered an act of self-defense. Hopefully this man learned something and will not make the same mistake again.
And it should be noted that the man who was harassing the woman in the video got up and walked away without any serious injuries. Since he is not at risk of being beat up by trans women on a regular basis, this incident has a minor impact on his life when compared against the effect his own abusive remarks may have on those he harassed.
Transphobic tequila advertisement in Interview Magazine, April 1996.
The above ad is a clear illustration of trans-misogyny. The set up in the first image is the standard sexism that women generally experience to different degrees. The first image implies that all this woman’s social worth is tied to her looks and assumed availability to the target heteronormative male reader. And it reads like this target audience is being encouraged to participate in some sort of street harassment scenario.
The second image delivers the anti-trans “punchline” when it indicated that the woman, who was first read as cis, is actually trans. Or, rather, the second image misidentifies her as “a he.” By the very fact that she is trans, the woman’s social worth is reduced to absolutely nothing. And this is emphasized with the tag line: “Life is harsh.” So what started as an invitation for street harassment then takes a turn for the worst and escalates to one of possible physical violence against the woman in the ad.
This is something I’ve personally experienced in my everyday life. At first I might be mistakenly read as a cis woman. While I may experience street harassment when this happens, there is a clear shift in the form and intensity of the harassment once the harasser(s) realizes that I’m trans. The more the harasser found me attractive when he thought I was a cis woman, the more abusive and aggressive he becomes once he realizes that I’m a trans woman. He usually reacts as if I had intentionally tricked him. If he’s with a group of friends the danger goes up even more.
Not only is it assumed by the people who made this ad, the target audience, and the average street harasser that women exist to please them. But by extension, it is therefore assumed that all trans women want the attention of men. That is, as the trans-misogynist logic goes, since women exist to please men, then the only reason trans women would possibly transition is because they want the attention of men.
This sets up all trans women who are misread as cis as “traps.” Now, I’m your classic women-oriented dyke with absolutely zero interest in men. Nor do I try to pass for cis. But neither of those things stop those men who harass me from believing otherwise. When the anti-female intersects with the anti-trans life is most certainly “harsh.”
The U.S. government’s case against Kenneth Furr, the Metropolitan Police Department officer who allegedly shot at a group of five people in a car, including at least two transgender women, in the city’s Sursum Corda neighborhood in August, was delayed further Dec. 19 when both Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Worm and Furr’s defense lawyer, Harold Martin, asked Judge Ann O’Regan Keary for a continuance.
Keary granted the request, scheduling a felony status conference for Jan. 27, 2012. Worm had told Keary at a Nov. 4 hearing that the government was close to offering a plea deal to Furr, who remains held without bond as he awaits a grand jury indictment on one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. However, at a subsequent hearing on Nov. 18, Worm and Martin had still not reached an agreement on the terms of a plea deal.
Jan. 27 will mark Furr’s fifth felony status conference without a grand jury indictment. If the lawyers are unable to reach an agreement, and the government remains intent on prosecuting Furr, they would then move forward with an indictment, followed by a trial.
According to charging documents, Furr was arrested during the early morning hours of Aug. 26 after he exited his car and shot at the other car with the five individuals following an initial altercation at a CVS store and a subsequent collision between the two vehicles. Furr allegedly approached one of the transgender women at the CVS, leading to an altercation. Furr then pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the group, pushing them inside the store, where they told the on-duty security officer that they were being threatened, according to the documents.
The charging documents detail the larger group following Furr after the initial altercation, both parties in vehicles; the collision between the two; and Furr exiting his car to fire at the group. Officers responding to the crime scene smelled alcohol on Furr’s breath. When his breath was tested five hours later, Furr had a blood-alcohol level of .15, almost twice the legal limit.
Again, Furr’s violent actions are being minimized in the press, particularly the “gay” press. Like previous articles, this one makes it sound like no one got hurt. Yet, the fact is, as was previously reported: “Two of the transgender women and one of the male friends suffered … gunshot wounds in the incident.”
Furr literally jumped on the hood of the car and started shooting the people inside with a Metropolitan Police Department issued gun while screaming, ”Ima kill all of you.” It’s hard to believe that Furr wasn’t shooting to kill every person in that car. This seems like an open and shut case, and a single charge of assault with a dangerous weapon seems ridiculously light to begin with given the severity of Furr’s actions.
I can’t help but think if the survivors were White cis women, as opposed to trans women of color, and Furr wasn’t a White police officer that this case would be taken more seriously.
But, yeah, the survivors of Furr’s violent attack were actually originally treated as if they were the perpetrators: “Based on reports from community members who have spoken with the women attacked by Furr, they were handcuffed by police and ‘treated like criminals instead of victims.’”
As targets of violence at the intersection of institutionalized White supremacy, cis supremacy, and male supremacy, it seems unlikely that trans women of color can receive equitable and just treatment from the criminal (in)justice system.
At year’s end, the local LGBT community is recovering from a year of violent attacks directed at LGBT individuals, particularly transgender women of color.
Beginning with the July 20 murder of 23-year-old transgender woman Lashai Mclean in the District’s East Corner, the violent attacks – some robberies, some assaults – continued throughout the summer.
Two days after Mclean’s murder, another transgender woman was approached by a man, who threatened and then fired a gun at her.
On Aug. 20, four transgender females were threatened and shot at by four suspects who yelled homophobic epithets at them in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. A week later, off-duty MPD Officer Kenneth Furr had an altercation with a group of five people, at least two of whom were transgender women. Furr allegedly shot at the group as they sat in a car, injuring at least three people, one seriously.
August contained even another attack, when two brothers allegedly sexually harassed a group of women in Columbia Heights. When one of the women told the men they were not interested because they were lesbians, the men attacked them. Police who initially responded to the crime scene allegedly did not take an incident report, prompting calls for Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier to institute harsher penalties for officers who don’t comply with the District’s human rights law.
There was no relief in September. The morning of Sept. 10, 35-year-old Gaurav Gopalan, known to some as ”Gigi,” was found dead on a Columbia Heights sidewalk, the cause of death later ruled ”blunt force trauma” and classified as a homicide. Gima Brown, a transgender woman, survived being shot in the neck Sept. 12.
Many of the other 2011 cases involving transgender individuals – of which there are many more – are still under investigation, as is the Gopalan homicide, prompting LGBT activists to demand this year that the MPD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia investigate and pursue the prosecution of bias crimes to the fullest extent possible.
In response to community concerns, MPD officials held a series of town hall-style meetings and participated in a number of forums for feedback from the LGBT community, through frustrations were not erased.
Those frustrations led members of various groups such as Get Equal DC, the DC Trans Coalition, Transgender Health Empowerment and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance to picket MPD headquarters and the U.S. Attorney’s Office near the end of the year, Nov. 17. That action was followed by an attempt to lobby members of City Council overseeing MPD. Activists made a late-2011 push for more MPD oversight and elimination of ”prostitution-free zones,” which activists say lead to profiling of transgender individuals.
Trans women are disproportionately impacted by murder and violence, and yet there is a serious gap in anti-violence and anti-oppression organizing when it comes to people who live at the intersection of being both trans and a woman.
November 20th of each year is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Events across the United States and the world are held to memorialize trans people who were killed in the past year. The murders are called anti-trans violence, even though the dead are exclusively trans women or people who were female-presenting at the time of their death. If being a trans person were the main factor, why are there not roughly equivalent numbers of male trans people who are targeted? We believe it’s because these women are no less the targets of anti-female violence than they are of anti-trans violence.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, which tracks the murders of people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV affected communities in an annual Hate Violence Report, has found that trans women are disproportionately impacted by murder. In 2010, 44 percent of LGBTQH (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected) murder victims were trans women, and in 2009 trans women were 50 percent of murder victims. Yet trans people as a whole are only about 1 percent of the LGBTQH population. Trans women also more often experienced multiple forms of violence and more severe violence, as well as more police bias and violence.
The Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist initiative addressing all aspects of violence experienced by trans women.
As people who are both female and trans, trans women experience the overlapping effects of anti-trans and anti-female discrimination and violence. In her book, Whipping Girl, Julia Serano popularized the term “trans-misogyny” to describe the unique intersection of discrimination and violence that is simultaneously anti-trans and anti-female. It is trans-misogyny that is the focus of the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project.
Anti-violence organizing that addresses violence against women generally focuses on cis women, while failing to account for violence against trans women. And anti-violence organizing that addresses violence against trans people generally tends to treat violence against trans people as nongendered, which also fails to account for violence against trans women.
Trans women experience anti-female violence and discrimination as women. But this gendered violence and discrimination is masked by gender-neutral language identifying it as against trans people. Framing violence and discrimination against trans women as purely anti-trans — instead of anti-female — prevents us from understanding its intersectional roots.
This year, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released, Injustice at Every Turn, a national survey of discrimination against trans people. Significant gender differences are documented throughout the report with trans women and girls experiencing higher rates of violence and discrimination than that of male and nonbinary trans people.
Trans women experience higher rates of physical and sexual assault, less advancement in education and more discrimination in hiring. They are more likely to be fired and denied promotions, more likely to do survival sex work or trade sex for housing and are more often affected by HIV. They are also more likely to have a court stop or limit their relationship with their children, are at increased risk of incarceration, serve more time and experience greater physical and sexualized assault from law enforcement and while incarcerated.
While the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project believes that gender differences in violence and discrimination are important, we also believe that racialized violence and discrimination are no less important. The publications, Injustice at Every Turn and Hate Violence Report show that trans women of color disproportionately bear the brunt of the violence and discrimination.
Too often, violence against trans women is not seen as violence against women. But as the scholar and activist, Barbara Smith, said, “Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women; women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women.”
This is the feminism on which the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project is based. Trans women are women, and so their issues are feminist issues. We agree with Smith: “Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.”
(Originally published in On The Issues Magazine)