22
Apr
09

Remembering the T in LGBT

An assigned reading on the Gendercator controversy seems especially apt this week, as the feminist blogosphere deals with a transgender boycott of Feministe and the trial coverage of Angie Zapata’s murder trial.

The Gendercator controversy was over the exclusion of a film called the Gendercator from a GLBT film festival a couple of years ago, amidst concerns and protests that the film was anti-trans.  At its most basic, it posits two values against each other:  censorship being bad vs. hate speech being tolerated in a safe space.

At its core, the fight was over whether or not trans gender individuals are seen as full members of the LGBT movement, in spite of their being the T in LGBT.  They are still seen as a “threat” by many radical feminists, who consider them men in women’s clothing, and even go so far as to ban trans women from all-women spaces, like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, which has a “womyn-born-womyn only” policy.

Even those feminists or GLBT activists who see trans gender individuals as full members of the movement may not be full allies.  Trans women often feel that even well-meaning cis women have a habit of drowning out their voices even in discussions started by or directly about the trans women.

Recently, a blogger named Voz called for a boycott of populate feminist blogs Feministe and Feministing (see sidebar for links), since:

“Both blogs have a history of mistreating and disrespecting trans women, and exploiting us for their own ends.
We tried reason. We tried engaging. We tried talking. We went off to r own spaces to heal.
Nothing worked.”

Feministe’s analysis of the boycott, what led to it, and a call for more awareness by cisgender women can be found here.

(“Cisgender” means those for whom the body they were born with matches their perceived gender, and is sometimes shortened to “cis” or “cis females.”)

Two useful blogs for starting to educate yourself about transgender issues are Transgriot and Pam’s House Blend.

If you’re trans gender, of course, you have more to worry about than just derailed comment threads: trans women are still murdered at a disproprotionately high rate, especially those trans women of colour. Their deaths are often not taken seriously by police departments and the media, labelled as “tranny prostitute” murders whether or not the victims were engaged in sex work.

One recent victim of transphobia was Angie Zapata. Her killer, Allen Ray Andrade, was found guilty earlier today of first degree murder, of a bias motivated crime (hate crime), as well as guilty of vehicle theft and identity theft.

At 4:00 PM Mountain time, he was sentenced to life without parole.

During the trial, the defense argued a “trans panic” defense; like the equally hateful “gay panic” defense (used by Matthew Shepard’s killers, among others) it posits that upon finding out that someone else is trans/gay, the accused is immediately driven into such uncontrollable rage/madness that they quite understandably kill the person.

Yeah. There’s something wrong with a world where anyone thinks that this’ll work. Or where it does work.

The defense also made a point of not calling Angie by her name, preferring to use the name she was born with and male pronouns to refer to her, often confusing her family who consistently used “she,” “her” and “Angie” to refer to their murdered loved one. It was all part of an effort by the defense to treat Angie as inherently “deceptive” in living the life she chose.

Luckily, this hateful attempt at blaming the victim failed, and Andrade (who referred to Zapata as “it” in recorded phone conversations played at the trial) will be spending the rest of his life in jail.

This was the very first time in the US that someone has been convicted of a hate crime against a transgendered individual.

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6 Responses to “Remembering the T in LGBT”


  1. 1 Alia
    25 April 2009 at 11:53 am

    I actually learned a lot more about the GLBT community from you in this posting. It is hard to imagine that hardship that some of these people go through on a daily basis because they are different, or determined by society to be different. In bringing in other information from outside sources, you really helped me to understand current issues surrounding transgendered people. I especially appreciated your comments on the defense using the term “trans panic” as a reason for murdering. In my eyes there is no excuse for what happened. That defense is a crock.

  2. 26 April 2009 at 2:56 pm

    It always saddens me that the Trans community is considered a liability in the gay movement. When ENDA (the Employee Non-Discrimination Act) was in congress a few years ago it was having trouble getting the votes they needed so the authors chose to drop protection for trans individuals. It always reminds me of the way abolitionists threw the suffragists under the bus in favor of getting black men the vote.

    The whole argument about whether trans people should be included in women’s spaces is one of my biggest problems with the feminist movements. How can you say you’re fighting for equality when you’re purposely excluding people from that equality?

  3. 26 April 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I just watched the video of the questioning by the defense. I want to throw up. The questions they asked weren’t relevant except to continually highlight Angie’s gender identity in a negative way.

  4. 4 Jha
    26 April 2009 at 6:17 pm

    When I posted about the trial and the awful strategy the defense was using, I actually had someone respond, “well, it’s the defense. They have to do everything they can for their client.”

    Yeah, no shit, as if that makes it all better. -_-

  5. 5 arthermit
    26 April 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Yeah, and I’m they’re the same people *forced* to blame rape victims for their own attacks.

    I weep for the suffering of the defense lawyers.

  6. 6 Ann
    28 April 2009 at 12:32 pm

    This is an issue I don’t know much about. So your post was helpful with the inclusion of other current events.
    It’s awful that the movement is so slow but not very long ago, a defense that makes the victim look like a freak would have won. Families are supporting their children who are transgender or homosexual more and more.
    About inclusion for trans in feminism, both sides need to be part of the goal to be allies. Gay men need to be part of feminism. Straight men need to be part of women’s rights. To not be discriminated against is a human right. More communication, less censorship. More understanding and love.


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