Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stop Killing My Sisters

 By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Sometimes in the Trans community we receive positive and uplifting news, like the recent bill being passed and signed to protect Transgender Rights in Delaware, making it the 13th state to add gender identity to its hate crime laws. Sadly, more often than not we’re faced with the opposite. We face discrimination in the work place, housing and faced with the dangers of a hostile Cis-gender society. We’ve been fortunate that states are looking at these issues and passing laws. It’s great that marriage equality is a discussion on nearly every families table in the United States, but alarmingly the violence against LGBTQI people has been on the rise, especially Transgender People, exceptionally high among Trans-women and near an epidemic of violence towards Trans-women of Color.

I, like many other Transwomen of color, is beyond sick and tired of hearing about yet another attack on a Trans-woman of color or otherwise. I’m tired of people, especially those in the LGBTQ community that still supports Transphobic/homophobic Fox News, who are partially responsible for enticing such hate filled rhetoric.
At 1: am Friday, June 21, Bree Wallace was viciously stabbed, 20 times  after being lured to a rundown area off Stanton Road SE in the Washington D.C. area. According to the Metro weekly, the victim told police that she knew the person who attacked her and was able to give a full description. According to the update article, a suspect has been arrested on unrelated charges and Bree spirits are up and she is recovering well.

Bree Wallace pictured
Bree is the latest in a string of violent attacks and murders against Trans-women of Color. According to the Human Rights Campaign’s new Transgender Americans: A Handbook of Understanding on Hate Violence, violence against transgender people appears to be in epidemic mode with hardly a month going by without another national story in the “papers”, of a transgender person who was beaten, raped or killed. I say “papers” because the only news received from our mainstream TV media is silence and if you’re watching Fox News, with their non-stop Transphobic reports, you may be even encouraged to commit such violence. Polling does show that 68 percent of American believes we need a federal hate crimes law protecting transgender people. Obviously then, we in the Trans community, are not the only ones hearing of these horrific violent acts. The country is watching but doing little to protect us.
Also this month, a trans-woman, which was walking along Hollywood Blvd. minding her own business, was viciously attacked by several men, as a highly publicized surveillance video demonstrates. On June 20, Nicol Shakhnazaryan, a 21 year old Los Angeles resident was arrested. He pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of battery with serious bodily injury and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in a report on laist.com. His attorney is actually claiming the victim was the aggressor. My question is why isn’t this on Nancy Grace, or Lesbian Jane Velez Mitchell? Is this mainstream media’s way of telling the transgender community, especially Trans-women of Color, we don’t matter?

                                                            Picture rom video, showing suspects following victim; below the video    
It would be comforting to know these are isolated incidents, but they’re not. Since April we have had three, publicized African-America Transwomen killed in Baltimore, Maryland, Orlando, Florida, Ohio, with only one arrest in those cases according to transpoc.org. Sisters that we will never know or meet are Ce-Ce Acoff, Tyrell Jackson, Coko Williams, Sage Smith who is still missing, Paige Clay, Trans-man Deoni Jones and many more. In fact we are so victimized we have our own special day of the year to stop and reflect on how many Transgender people were brutally killed; the annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. We light a candle and count our dead. We count the deaths not by a disease, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters, but deaths by hate, hate for someone living their life in order to make them complete and happy.
There is so much more that needs to be down. First we should force that these issues be addressed by national African-American organizations that would normally be in protest mode by now if this had been Cis-gender people. We can also do a lot for ourselves, as women we have to be more aware of a hostile world that would value the life of a woman as less, even more so a Trans-woman and especially a Trans-Woman of color.

1.       Plan to be with at least one other friend when going out to a bar, club or party.

2.       Keep friends and family aware of where you’re going and with whom.

3.       Trust your instincts. If any social situation becomes uncomfortable or feels wrong, remain calm and leave immediately to a safe public place.

4.        Avoid remaining long in an apartment laundry room or parking garage where stalkers can hide.

5.       Carry a weapon to defend yourself at all times; a gun, taser, box cutter, pepper spray etc.

6.       Don’t accept rides from strange men and if you’re a working girl, be on guard at every second, but would advise in finding a safer profession as soon as possible or hire a bodyguard.

7.       If traveling alone, stay in well-lighted, busy areas. At all times avoid walking alone after dark, especially in hostile areas.

8.       While driving or walking, avoid taking short cuts, stay in heavy populated areas.

9.       If at any time you feel someone is following you immediately run, start screaming to the safest area you can find, or to someone or even to a police officer.

10.   And never meet a potential date, partner etc, at their territory. Always meet in safe, well lighted public places, of your choosing.

I could go on with this list and the truth is we are under attack and have to become more aware of it and protect ourselves and we all need to pressure the local media and police to follow up with the cases of those that have had their lives snatched away from them. Most importantly I don't want to hear of another sister being beaten, raped or killed, be safe my sisters and brothers.


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