Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Asher Brown’s “Death By Bullies” Sparks Investigations, Demonstration

Asher Brown, Fox News 26 photo

Houston, Texas – Pressure is mounting for a fuller investigation into the reasons for the suicide of Asher Brown. After hundreds of mourners and supporters gathered on Saturday outside Moore Elementary School to pay tribute to Asher and support his family, Harris County prosecutors are investigating to learn all they can about the role school bullying played in the 13-year-old gay boy’s suicide at his home on September 13. On October 4, CBS and AP reported the release of a new study establishing that anti-gay bullying is a major contributing factor to LGBTQ depression and suicide. According to the report of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, the mental health of LGBTQ youth is deeply impacted in many negative ways by the harassment and bullying they receive in school. “Our research makes it crystal clear that anti-LGBT bullying is a major reason that youth who don’t conform to gender rules or expectations have poorer mental health later in life,” study co-author Stephen T. Russell, a consultant with the Project, said in a press release. Asher Brown’s death has also sparked pressure on school boards and administrations to do more to make school experiences safer for children and youth. A demonstration is planned for Tuesday, October 5, outside Hamilton Middle School in Houston where Asher was a student to highlight the need for safe schools and for zero-tolerance of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and bullying because of the real or perceived sexual orientations and gender identities of teenagers. One of new initiatives calls for the passage of a law being called “Asher’s Rule” in memory of the gentle, small, and much-tormented gay youth who no longer could endure the hell he faced at school. The Facebook notice announcing the demonstration and vigil for safer schools in memory of Asher includes this appeal to the public: “Please join us to help educate the schools, the school district, the parents, the students to help make schools a safer place for kids. We all collectively hope and dream for Asher and all kids who are/were bullied…. that the world becomes a better place with what they would have hoped and dreamed it would be. We need more sensitivity and compassion… not bullying and meanness in this world. Please find ways to get kids help. We need these special kids to grow to adults.”

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Asian Americans, Bullying in schools, gay teens, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, Protests and Demonstrations, Social Justice Advocacy, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Asher Brown’s “Death By Bullies” Sparks Investigations, Demonstration

Murdered NJ Transwoman Disrespected Even in Death

Maplewood, NJ – A 28-year-old transwoman who worked as a model was shot to death at a private residence in Maplewood, New Jersey on September 12.  Victoria Carmen White, 28, was beautiful, talented, and greatly beloved by her friends.  The transgender community and their allies are up in arms at the news of her murder, which is still under investigation, because initial reports by authorities and news media mis-identifed her by her birth identity as a male.  Only after an outcry from the public was Ms. White’s identity corrected by the Maplewood Police and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.  This statement was released to the press: “Following an examination by the Medical Examiner and further investigation, it has been confirmed that the victim was a post-operative transgender female having undergone sex reassignment surgery.” Calling the act of mis-identification an act of gross disrespect and “erasure,” the trans community is launching an effort to educate both straight and gay communities about the demands of human dignity transpeople need and deserve in today’s world. As Bird of Paradox wrote following the act of mis-identifying Ms. White as male: “That a society has such contempt for transsexual women that the first thing it does after we die is attempt to impose on us an identity which isn’t even legally ours, let alone one in which we lived, speaks volumes about the depth and intensity of insensitivity and downright hatred which we face each and every day of our lives.” The facts of the case are few.  Ms. White was shot at approximately 5 a.m. on the morning of September 12 at an apartment complex located at 159 Jacoby Street in Maplewood, an upscale city of 22,000 named as “one of the most desirable places to live in America.”  Incomes are generally high, and numbers of people living in poverty in Maplewood are low.  The city is picturesque enough to be the setting for several recent films, such as Garden State, One True Thing, and Stepmom. Columbia High School, where Ms. White attended, is the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee, and proudly displays a plaque to that effect.  While the crime has not been labeled an anti-transgender hate crime by authorities, it is difficult for Ms. White’s friends and the trans community to believe that a significant aspect of the motive for the murder could not be transphobia and gender hatred.  An outpouring of grief and admiration has come from friends throughout New Jersey for the beautiful woman many knew as “April.”  Her longtime friend, Angela DeRocco, wrote about her determination to be who she was, no matter the misunderstanding she received since her days as a student at Columbia High School.  “She did what she had to do to get through life and she didn’t care what anyone thought of her,” DeRocco wrote for Maplewood Patch. “If they did think negative, she just brushed it off her shoulders because she knew the ones who truly cared about her wouldn’t judge her and would always be there for her.” DeRocco continued, “I love her so much and respect her for keeping true to herself. She worked so hard becoming who she was, and it made her happy.” In the media frenzy since the death-by-bullying of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi and so may other gay teenagers throughout the country, the outrageous murder and blundering (perhaps deliberate) mis-identification of Victoria Carmen White should not be forgotten.  Pam’s House Blend, as usual, has done a great service by lifting up this sad story in the days running up the the Transgender Day of Remembrance in early November.  Bird of Paradox leaves us with the question of justice for all transpeople in the wake of Ms. White’s murder: “If the authorities – having insisted we jump through all these flaming hoops in order to be considered the women and men we know ourselves to be – can then so casually dismiss everything about us except that we’ve undergone major abdominal surgery, and that we were once assigned identities which weren’t ours, then what hope do we have of ever being accepted as ourselves, dead or alive?” Rest in peace, beautiful sister. We have much work to do.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gun violence, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Media Issues, New Jersey, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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