Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Excuse of a Killer

I love The Curvature. Every time I read it I find something that pisses me off, but at the same time it's stuff I feel I should know.

Some of the most compelling entries for me about about violence against transgender individuals. It's startlingly common for a transgender person to be murdered and then have their deaths (and lives) trivialized by insinuations that murdering people whose gender identities don't match what's in their pants is somehow more understandable and excusable than murdering people who fall in love with others of the "wrong" sex. This next entry is not her most recent example of this, but it's the best one to start with, I think.

Killing a Woman Because She’s Trans “Not a Classic Hate Crime."

Angie Zapata was murdered in July. Allen Ray Andrade, who has admitted to beating Zapata to death, supposedly became uncontrollably “enraged” upon learning that she was transgender after a sexual encounter. This is, of course, a common defense in such murders (known as “trans panic”), and one that apparently plays into bigoted public sensibilities that transgender individuals are unethically “fooling” people and of course no one would ever knowingly have consensual sex with them. It’s also worth noting that Andrade claims to have only learned Zapata was transgender by sexually assaulting her, grabbing her genitals without her consent. He then saw it as an excuse to kill her.


“This is not a classic hate crime, where an individual is beaten to death because of their orientation. This is a case when an individual reacted irrationally and unlawfully to learning they had been fooled,” said Robinson.

“Fooled.” “Not a classic hate crime.” Why isn’t it a classic hate crime? The argument doesn’t hold up — the defendant did kill Zapata because of her gender identity. He sexually assaulted a woman, in the process discovered that she was transgender, and as a direct result he chose to beat her to death. Ergo, he killed her because she was trans, and this is not hard to follow logic. So allow me to translate. What Robinson really means is: “This is not a classic hate crime, because this time the defendant had a good reason.”

There’s no other way to put it. There’s no other reason to use language like “duped” and “fooled.” There’s no other reason to use this as an argument unless you’re trying to show that there was an understandable, if “irrational” reason for the murder.

As this blogger cites in another entry, according to the Human Rights Campaign, "transgender individuals in America have up to a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered. One in twelve. Let that sink in." This is in contrast to the average person, whose chance of being murdered is about 1 in 18,000.

Not only are they more likely to be killed because they're trans, but their killers can get their charges reduced because even if you can't really excuse it, it's understandable to be faced with a transgender person (even when you were looking for one) and fly into a violent murderous rage, just because the surprise was so traumatic for you.

If anyone reading is looking for some way to help with this, I suggest making whatever donation you can to one of these organizations. At least check them out, and for the gods' sake if you hear people slurring transgender people, or you read it online or whatever, just remember how far people take that sentiment. Just remember what it really means to say, "Man, if I found out some hot girl had a dick I'd lose it." It's not just the excuse of a narrow-minded idiot. It's the excuse of a killer. Don't let anyone use it, no matter who they are.

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