Saturday, May 09, 2009

The War is not won

There was a bittersweetness to hearing that Allen Andrade, the murderer of Angie Zapata will be receiving an additional sentence of 60 years to his life-sentence. It's an echo of the sadness tinged with...not joy...relief, maybe? that I felt when I first heard that he was found guilty. Even now, weeks later, the memory of my roommate telling me the verdict makes me tear up.

We are starting to see a shift in how these crimes are addressed in a larger social context. The jury's complete rejection of Andrade's "trans-panic" defense is proof of that.

But as I said, the war isn't won. We need to shift focus to the trial of Dwight DeLee for the murder of Lateisha Green. His defense is poised to make the same bigoted arguments and is counting on the fact that a jury who has lived their lives soaking in a culture of cis-supremacy, homophobia and misogyny will buy the idea that murder is a rational response to gender non-conformity.

The local media in this case is being spectacularly unhelpful
by constantly misgendering Lateisha and referring to her as a man. Both of the above links contain contct information for the local media outlets who have engaged in this transphobic behavior. Please contact them and let them know that doing this not only displays a bigoted attitude, it is also directly counter to the guidelines for reporting on trans and gender variant people as laid out in the APA style book.

I don't pray because to me it is the functional equivalent of shouting into the void, and because I would rather encourage myself to do something about whatever hurdle I'm facing than wishing for the help of some mystical force that may or may not exist.

All that being said, I am praying now. I pray that the fate of Allen Andrade shows a shift in how trans people are regarded socially. I want to see the legitimacy of the "trans panic" defense go down in a blaze of burning bullshit. As Jill @ Feministe said, we only accept defenses for murder built on panic, temporary insanity and passion because there is a social agreement that the actions of the murdered person are morally unacceptable to the point that a reasonable person might react with deadly force.

I am ready for the end of the social agreement that hetero men are justified in reacting with deadly force when someone has genitals that these men don't expect. I am ready for the end of the idea that threatened masculinity and a transphobic implication of homosexuality is a justified reason to kill someone.


  1. (I am a friend of Witchie, so this is not quite a random driveby as it might seem :) )

    I have to wonder, there's a general culture that has come out of the south and Appalachia, a culture of 'honor'. It seems most of the trans murderers reacted in ways that are in tandem with this culture.

    To restore their honor, they remove the problem that damaged it in the first place, that is the transwoman. These places let people go due to 'those people deserved killin'. Juries in these areas have known to let folks off with little to no punishment.

    Work needs to be done to quash this culture, or at least modernize it. It's not necessary in a modern society.

  2. Hey Pathia! I hoped you'd stop by. That is an interesting take on the perspective that seems to breed these kinds of crimes and it feeds into something I have been working on for a while, the notion of gender, "honor" and who usually bears the brunt of pain for maintaining honor (women, mostly, trans and cis, worldwide.)

    The concept of "honor" crimes is a deep and treacherous one.