Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-Transgender Violence Hot Topic for LGBT Community

Trans peopleNew York City – The Associate Press reports that a major anti-transgender violence forum slated for October 7 will address the rising incidence of attacks against transgender New Yorkers.  Brooklyn Law School is hosting the forum,which will be attended by the family of Lateisha Green, transwoman of color, who was murdered in Syracuse last year.  Her convicted killer, Dwight DeLee, was convicted of manslaughter in her shooting death three months ago.  The conviction was the first under New York State’s hate crimes law, sending a message to perpetrators of violence against transgender people that transphobic attacks will no longer be tolerated in the Empire State.  The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, organizers of the Brooklyn forum, point out that transgender people face increasing degrees of “pervasive discrimination, harassment and violence.”  Statistics gathered by transgender advocacy groups note that 12% of all violent attacks against LGBT people in 2008 were perpetrated against transgender people.  As Joseph Erbentraut, Great Lakes Regional Editor for EDGE reported earlier this week, Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals are complicit in these crimes of violence because of prejudices they hold against gender non-conforming people.  Activists agree that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are hardly immune from the prejudice vented against transpeople by the society.  Each group too easily absolutizes the gender presentation they are familiar and comfortable with.  Jokes and slurs aimed by LGB people against transgender people, calling them “trannies” or “drag queens” differ little from the epithets cast at them by straight haters.  While actual instances of anti-trans violence by LGB people are rare, the bias is symptomatic of a tragic lack of awareness that all prejudice against members of the sexual minority is interconnected.  The Lateisha Green case, however, is a source of hope in New York.  While the conviction of DeLee was based on anti-gay epithets he used while murdering Green rather than transphobic ones, the severity of the first-degree manslaughter sentence woke the Empire State legal community up, and began a movement to add transphobic language to the hate crimes penal code as well as homophobic speech.  The precedent-setting case sends a message that attacks against transgender New Yorkers will no longer be tolerated.  Erbentraut reports that all sources he contacted agreed that the most effective way to blunt anti-transgender violence would be the swift passage of comprehensive hate crimes protections and employment security legislation at the federal level, such as the Matthew Shepard Act, now in the House-Senate conference process, and the recently introduced Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

October 8, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, ENDA, gay men, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Matthew Shepard Act, Media Issues, New York, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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