Friday, January 16, 2009

The Crime of Being

Okay, this has been sitting in my head for way too long. I'm prone to depression and tend to end up in this strange fugue state where all I can do is play mindless free flash games online and try to pretend that the world is not as scary as it actually is.

What scares me?

Many things scare me; spiders, plane crashes, driving too fast (its an anxiety thing due to fear of police), losing my front teeth, water where I can't touch the bottom or see it (pools are okay, oceans and lakes? fuck that noise), getting cancer...

However, none of those things holds a candle to the fear that I feel for the lives of people that I love. I come from a position of relative privilege to them. First, my gender presentation and my body(along with the social assignment of my gender based on secondary sexual characteristics) generally match, and second, I'm white. For these people who are very dear to me, one or both of these things are not true. And what terrifies me more than the idea of driving too fast in a car filled with spiders, while on the phone with my doctor who is telling me I have cancer, just as a plane crashes in front of me, making me swerve into a bottomless lake and knock out my front teeth on the steering wheel, is the idea that for people like my friends who do not share my whiteness or my apparent cis-ness, they can be murdered for simply daring to exist, and their murderers excused because we live in a world that does not value the personhood of their victims. We live in a world that constructs my firends as mutilated freaks, sexual deviants and "faking it". They can't even lobby for laws to protect their ability to go into the bathroom that they are less likely to get assaulted in without being conflated with perverts, pedophiles, and sexual predators.


If you go back and look at the list of the dead for the Trans Day Of Remembrance, you may notice that when discussing violence against transpeople, we are talking about more that transphobia, transmisogyny, or homophobia. Considering that approximately 70% of the names on the list belong to women of color, we are also talking racism.

These cases are often treated with boxing gloves by the media and general public, with the assumption that a black transwoman must be a sex worker, and that she was probably killed when her john discovered her penis, and the persistent use of incorrect pronouns by the media, which is a basic journalistic no-no indicating more the refusal of the "journalist" to overlook their own biases while reporting. With the prevalence of the "trans panic" defense and how it seems to fly pretty well with the media and sometimes the court system, it seems pretty clear that black transwomen's lives are less valuable than the offended manhood of some schmuck that thinks that the appropriate way to react to a situation like this is killing someone. They are killed for not being the "right" kind of woman.

The media and general public opinion seems to want to construct these women as "bringing it on themselves" for "lying" about "what they really are," as if your very existence and the fact that it triggers some homophobia in the person who decided that murdering you is the only way to deal with it is your fault. When police in a city assault a black transwoman and she is later found dead, and in the same city, another transwoman is found shot three times there is clearly no official justice for these women.

In actuality, the lives of transpeople, especially transwomen of color, are in more danger than the average cis-person. Constructing transpeople as some sort of dangerous menace, beyond being insulting as hell, is factually inaccurate.

Even the cis-partners of transpeople are considered legitimate targets for this hate violence.

I have an obligation, to my friends and to my morals, to not be silent. To not let the hate of the world keep me hidden in my home, frozen and unable to act. These women were someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's lover. They could be mine, or yours. regardless of their bodies and the social constructions that others must cling to so tightly that life no longer has value, they deserve to be valued.

I will not be silent about their lives. I will not be silent about the loss of them.

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