Your Take: LGBT-rights advocates urge the DOJ to investigate the killings of black transgender women.
On Aug. 14 Tiffany Gooden, 19, a black transgender woman, was stabbed to death on Chicago’s West Side. She was found dead just three blocks from where Paige Clay, 23, another black transgender woman, was discovered in April with a gunshot wound to the head. Just four days after Gooden’s killing, Kendall L. Hampton, 26, also a transgender woman, was shot in the parking lot of a Dairy Mart in Cincinnati.
Their murders are jarring reminders of the injustice that transgender women of color face. In fact, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (pdf) has reported that violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has increased 23 percent from 2009 to 2010, with people of color and transgender women as the most common victims. Of the victims murdered in 2010, 70 percent were people of color, while 44 percent were transgender women.
“Stop killing and beating down my family,” says Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “As a mother, sister and advocate, I am deeply troubled by the violence that plagues our trans sisters. I’m even more saddened by our level of indifference and inaction. Where is the outcry?”
The black and civil rights communities are shamefully silent when victims of violence are black and transgender. That is why the NBJC, the nation’s leading black LGBT civil rights organization; the Hip Hop Caucus, a civil and human rights organization that aims to promote political activism for young U.S. voters, using hip-hop music and culture; and the Trans People of Color Coalition, a national social-justice organization that promotes the interests of transgender people of color, are calling on the Department of Justice to establish a special task force to investigate the serial and systemic murders of countless transgender women of color who are attacked for living their truth. These groups are urging all civil rights leaders and community members to join their appeal to consciousness and action.
In fact, more than 200 black LGBT leaders, activists and allies will gather Sept. 19-22 in Washington, D.C., for the NBJC’s third annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit. Along with compelling briefings, a Black LGBT Leaders Day at the White House, Lobbying Day and meetings with members of Congress, OUT on the Hill will convene a groundbreaking panel (pdf) of black transgender women and advocates to address the epidemic of murders against this segment of the black community.
Stories like Gooden’s and Hampton’s represent a larger system of violence toward black transgender women. Their cases are part of an ongoing string of violence and mass murders against transgender women of color. “I want you to meet my family,” says Lettman-Hicks when she recalls the litany of black transgender women who have been killed within the last year. “We should intimately know all these women’s names and their stories.”
In Oakland, Calif., Brandy Martell, 37, was shot on April 29 in her genitals and then her chest after sharing that she was transgender. Coko Williams, another transgender woman of color, was found dead in April on a Detroit block with her throat slashed and one bullet wound. Deoni Jones, 22, a transgender woman, was fatally stabbed on Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C. An altercation between the victim and her attacker broke out at the bus stop, which resulted in the victim being stabbed in the face.
In November 2011, family, friends and community members mourned the loss of Shelley Hilliard, 19, a transgender woman who was reported missing. Weeks later, police were able to identify a burned torso found on Detroit’s East Side as belonging to Hilliard, who was also known as Treasure. Lashai Mclean, 23, a transgender woman, was tragically shot and killed last July in Washington, D.C. Mclean was with another transgender woman in the very early morning when she was gunned down in the District’s Northeast section. She was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to a local hospital.
And those are just some of the attacks we know of. Many more go unreported and garner little to no media attention. Aug. 12 marked the 10-year anniversary of the deaths of Ukea Davis and Stephanie Thomas, two transgender teenagers who were murdered execution style in Washington, D.C. Each of them was shot 10 times in the head and upper body.
By the time medical rescue workers arrived at the corner of 50th and C streets SE, both victims were dead. They died at the same corner where Tyra Hunter, another African-American transgender woman, lay dying after a car crash in 1995 as fire department medical technicians laughed and withdrew emergency care upon discovering that she was transgender.
Davis’ and Thomas’ murders remain unsolved.
“I’m appalled at how little has been done by the black and civil rights communities to fight for and protect transgender women,” says the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. “It’s time to break our silence and mobilize the way we did for Occupy Wall Street and Trayvon Martin.”
Some mobilization has been taking place within the black LGBT community. For instance, the TransFaith in Color Conference, an empowerment-and-networking summit for transgender people of color and their allies, recently took place in Charlotte, N.C.
But the black LGBT community cannot and should not have to do this work alone. When transgender women do fight back in an attempt to defend themselves, they risk being criminalized by a system that doesn’t have their best interests in mind. A system that has for centuries ravaged communities of color. A system we must all challenge.
Take CeCe McDonald, for instance, a black transgender hate-crime survivor currently being housed in a men’s facility. After being verbally and physically assaulted, McDonald fatally stabbed her attacker in alleged self-defense. She later accepted a plea deal to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 41 months in a male prison, where she will be subjected to physical and sexual assault — a blatant example of institutional biases against black and transgender people.
“It is unfortunate that in CeCe’s case, as in so many, the hate crime itself was overlooked entirely,” explains Kylar Broadus, executive director of the Trans People of Color Coalition, an NBJC board member and the first transgender person to testify before the Senate about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. “On top of blaming and prosecuting the victim, she is placed in harm’s way once again. We won’t rest until there is justice for our fallen black trans sisters who are disproportionally targeted and killed because of who they are. We won’t rest until there is justice for CeCe, Tiffany, Kendall, Ukea and Stephanie.”
Enough is enough. We must speak up and speak out. Now. How will you ensure that our family is not forgotten? Learn more about the upcoming OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit here. It’s time to come together and own our collective power.
(Kimberley McLeod, The Root)
Kimberley McLeod is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer and LGBT advocate. She is director of communications and press secretary at the National Black Justice Coalition, as well as creator and editor of Elixher.com, a resource for multidimensional representations of black LGBT women.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.
LGBTQ* Ally Tips
Graphic from Trinity’s Q Soc (of Ireland)
Following text from UC Davis’ Trans* Ally Tips PageTrans Ally Tips
SOME WAYS TO BE A GOOD TRANS ALLY…
• Don’t ever out a transperson. This is dangerous to their safety & can invalidate their identity. Likewise, be aware of your surroundings when discussing trans issues with a transperson. For their safety & comfort, they may prefer not to discuss these topics in public places or among strangers.
• Always use the pronouns & name the person wants you to use. If you’re unsure, ASK! If you make a mistake, correct yourself, & politely (& subtly, if possible) correct others if they use the wrong pronoun.
• Ask when & where it’s safe to use their chosen name & pronouns (e.g., if a transperson is not out at home, ask them how you should refer to them around their family, etc). Don’t ask transpeople what their “real” name is (i.e., the one they were born with). If you know their birth name, do not divulge it to others.
• Instead of using prefixes like bio- or real- to designate that someone is not trans, use “non-trans” or the prefix “cis-”. Two reasons for this: one, using “real” or “bio” sets up a dichotomy in which transpeople are not considered “real” or “biological.” Two, using the terms trans & non-trans or cis- alters the framework so that transpeople are the default rather than the Other. Setting up trans as the norm can help make transphobia & gender privilege more obvious.
• Instead of saying someone was born a boy (or a girl), try saying they were assigned male at birth (or were female-assigned). These terms recognize the difference between sex & gender, and emphasize the ways in which sex & gender are assigned to individuals at birth, rather than being innate, binary or immutable qualities.
• Don’t confuse gender with sexual preference. Transpeople, like non-trans people, are straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc. Gender is not tied to sexual preference, & there are a million ways to express desire.
• Don’t fetishize. Transpeople’s bodies are not a public forum. “Creatures with cunts,” “the best of both worlds” & “chicks with dicks” are all inappropriate ways of describing transpeople’s bodies.
• Don’t ask transpeople about their bodies, how they have sex, what their genitals are like, etc. It’s rude & none of your business. It can help to think about whether you would ask these questions of a non-trans person.
• Don’t ask about surgery or hormone status; don’t ask “when are you going to have the surgery?” or “are you on hormones?” Like non-trans people, our medical histories & bodies can be intensely personal & private. If transpeople want to share these details with you, allow them to do so on their own terms.
• Don’t assume the only way to transition is through hormones/surgery, & understand that medical transition is very often based on economic status. Recognize the classism inherent in associating medical transition with “authentic” trans identities.
• Don’t assume all transpeople want hormones and/or surgery, or to transition at all.
• Don’t assume all transpeople feel “trapped in the wrong body.” This is an oversimplification and not the way (all) transpeople feel.
• Don’t assume all transpeople identify as “men” or “women.” Many transpeople and genderqueer people identify as both, neither, or something altogether different.
• Don’t tell transpeople what is appropriate to their gender (e.g., transwomen should grow their hair out & wear dresses). Like non-trans people, we have varying forms of gender expression.
• Recognize the diversity of trans & genderqueer lives. Remember that these identities are part of other identities, and intersect with race, class, sexual preference, age, etc.
• Do listen if a transperson chooses to talk to you about their gender identity. Be honest about things you don’t understand—don’t try to fake it!
• Be aware of places transpeople may not be able to go (pun intended). Be understanding if a transperson doesn’t feel safe using a gendered bathroom or locker room. If your organization is holding an event, designate a gender-neutral bathroom in the building.
• Recognize that not all transpeople or genderqueer folks are out there trying to smash the gender binary. Recognize that it’s not their responsibility. If you want to smash the gender binary, then you do it!
• Don’t ask transpeople to educate you. Do your own homework & research. Understand that there is a difference between talking to individuals about their preferences/perspectives and forcing someone to be your educator. Try not to view individuals as spokespeople; the trans communities are diverse, not one monolithic voice or viewpoint.
• Don’t assume transmen are exempt from male privilege, misogyny, sexism, etc, just because of a so-called “girl past.”
• Recognize that transwomen deal with sexism in a very real way (on top of transphobia).
• Recognize that transwomen deserve access to “women-only” spaces/programs/shelters/etc.
• Recognize your privilege & prejudices as a normatively gendered person.
• Think about what makes you uncomfortable & why.
• Don’t let transphobia slide. Confront it as you would confront all other forms of oppression. Trans issues are rarely discussed & when they are it is often in a negative light. Transphobia is equally oppressive as (& works in conjunction with) sexism, homophobia, racism, classism, etc.
• Talk about trans issues/rights. Engage people in discussions & share your knowledge. The majority of “information” people have about trans issues is based on stereotypes & assumptions. To most people, trans folks are the freaks from Jerry Springer.
• Be aware of the vital role you play as a non-trans person. Remember that the way you talk about transpeople (e.g., using the right pronouns) influences how others perceive us & can make a difference in whether we pass, & whether we feel safe/comfortable. Always remember that people may be more likely to listen to & take cues from non-trans people than from transpeople. What you say & do matters!
• Don’t just mourn or take action when transpeople are murdered. Celebrate trans lives & work at making trans & genderqueer issues more visible on a day-to-day basis.
• Don’t tokenize. Simply adding the “T” to LGB doesn’t make you or your organization hip, progressive, or an ally. Make sure you have the resources, information & understanding to deserve that T.
• Above all respect and support transpeople in their lives & choices.
Asked by artistzee-deactivated20121110
We do not censor Facebook names for two reasons:
First, we encourage individual accountability when it comes to online interactions, just like you said.
Second, we encourage everyone in the Digital Age to actively take measures to protect their privacy. Users of social media who have some or all of their profiles set to “public” are putting themselves at risk for unwanted interactions, like spam.
Choosing to make your information public also means that this information:
can be associated with you (i.e., your name, profile pictures, cover photos, timeline, User ID, username, etc.) even off Facebook;
can show up when someone does a search on Facebook or on a public search engine;
will be accessible to the Facebook-integrated games, applications, and websites you and your friends use; and
will be accessible to anyone who uses our APIs such as our Graph API.
It’s imperative that everyone protects their privacy while using social media.
Check your privacy settings always: http://www.markevanstech.com/2010/04/23/a-must-do-check-your-facebook-privacy-settings/
10 Must-Know security settings for Facebook:
5 Critical Privacy Tips:
While it’s generally regarded as common “digital” courtesy to remove Facebook names, the fact that the content appears in search engines and can be aggregated by anyone and anything with API access or an app makes cutting out the individual names pointless — instead of searching for the name, you can just search for the content of the post and voila, you found them.
After four hours of this last night, we’re confident no one wants to watch this sober. Have no fear, though! STFUSexists and Lawsonry’s editor-in-chief are liveblogging the whole thing, from start to finish!
Come join us, watch it online, and laugh at the awesome (and *gasp* factual!) liveblog commentary.
Musical interlude #1.
Here’s what you missed:
- Obama ruined our country
- Mitt Romney is good for women and minorities
Watch it online live as STFUSexists and Lawsonry’s editor-in-chief liveblog the whole thing!
Hello. I’m glad someone made the effort to create this blog.
This is me, Maddie and my son, Dylan. He’s approaching 17 months old and has more musical ability than me. He also refuses to look at the camera but trust me, he’s pretty cute.
I can’t think of any positive representations of trans people as parents. Wouldn’t it be awesome if loads of people reblogged this tumblr to show that among other things, we can raise some pretty amazing kids.
Oh my god what a babe! I need to see this, positive representations of trans parents. I can’t wait to be a mom!!! This blog is awesome.
STFUTransphobes is a subsidiary of Lawsonry.