Saturday, August 02, 2008

The murder of Angie Zapata: why "it" matters.

Via Questioning Transphobia,: among others:

Basically, some walking shitstain called Alan Ray Andrade went out with Angie Zapata, had sex with her, and then, upon discovering that she did not have the genitalia he felt entitled to, killed her. Well. According to Andrade, she ceased to be "she" or even human once he discovered she was trans:

from Transgriot:

Andrade told police he grabbed Zapata in her genital area and felt a penis. He became angry and hit Zapata with his fist before grabbing a fire extinguisher and hitting her in the head twice, according to the affidavit.

Andrade explained to police that he thought he "killed it," referring to Zapata but when she made gurgling noises and started to sit up, he hit her with the extinguisher again.

Now, good old fashioned sexist misogyny already means that Andrade was all filled up with entitlement, and homophobia is an inextricable part of this too, sure thing. He's a man! Men have sex with women, which is what makes them men! He was OWED, man! AND: zomg, he touched someone else's penis: clearly this will immediately drain all the red blood cells from Andrade's worthless body unless he takes drastic measures to reassert his masculinity.

But there's also something else here, isn't there.

See, in the worldview of the transphobe, there are men, and there are women, and then there are -its.-

"Its" are not women, "its" are not men, even gay ones. "Its" are not human at all; they are monsters.

"They kill monsters, don't they?"

But surely, even if we acknowledge there's a LOT of hostility toward people who neither clearly fit into category "A" or "B," not everyone's actually going to go as far as murder. Andrade was a penny-ante criminal even before this; QED, the rest of us are all off the hook, then, right?


Trannies! Send backup!*

… was the call from a steward, at a gay pride parade, when transwomen got somewhat pissed off at being told they weren’t allowed to use the women’s toilets. A transwoman was later sexually assaulted because she was given no choice but to use the men’s toilets.

Ebony Whitaker, Sanesha Stewart and Angie Zapata are all transwomen who have been murdered this year because they were transwomen. The men accused of Sanesha and Angie’s deaths are, like far too many fuckers before them, using the good old trans panic defence - “Oh, but Your Honour, the shock of finding out that an attractive woman had boy-bits, which of course must have made my attraction to her gay and ergo wrong, just sent me into a violent killing rage which is a normal, acceptable, and understandable reaction, so please let me off.”

You may recognise this as a spin-off of the gay panic defence, “Oh, but Your Honour, having someone of the same gender express attraction to me is obviously such a gross and disgusting thing that I couldn’t help but fly into a homicidal rage, and am clearly the innocent victim in this case.”**

Worst thing about these “defences”? They work. Let’s face it, in a world where marshals at a FUCKING PRIDE PARADE are telling transwomen they don’t count***, or they’re obviously some kind of “threat” to ciswomen (which involves a train of thought starting at “transwomen are actually still men” station, passing through “and men automatically sexually desire women” junction, and arriving at “conclusion: transwomen are just evil rapists-in-waiting who go through one hell of a lot of shit just to be able to sneak into the ladies’ loos” central. Which, um, SO WRONG), there’s clearly some big old fucking assumptions still being made about sex, gender, the significance of naughty-bits … a whole lot of things that frankly, as a society, we need to get the fuck over.

Be sure to read the rest of what Queen of Thorns has to say wrt the whole fucking stupid-ass -tired- phenomenon of

but I’m a feminist who wants to end the gender binary, so doesn’t my thesis logically conclude that Transpeople Are Wrong? Because if Gender Is A Construct, then a person cannot actually Identify As a gender that Is Not Actually Real, right? So transpeople … are a) deluded because There Is No Gender, and b) Betraying The Cause by buying in to the concept of gender! ZOMG TRANSFOLK ARE THE ENEMY!!!!!!”

and if you are one of those feminists and have gotten as far as the part where, well gosh, maybe we should be -nicer- to Teh Tranz, but I still don't understand how transitioning isn't just shoring up those "male" and "female" boxes and isn't that bit all the trans peoples' in question idea anyway? Read this. Now.

*yes, they really said that, and the whole thing is totally fucked.

**or some other variation of "The ___ made me do it; I just don't know what came OVER me." Huh, why do I feel like we've just been having this conversation...?

***By the way, about that whole incredibly depressing and infuriating phenomenon wherein some of our gay cis brethren and cistern prove themselves to be capable of being just as fucking awful as anyone else, also: way to go again, Human Rights Champagne.

Catherine Cusic, a 63 year old lesbian from San Francisco, was forcibly evicted from this weekend's HRC dinner gala after she stood up during Joe Solmonese's keynote speech. According to witnesses and Ms. Cusic, while she had leaflets in her hand about HRC's ENDA debacle, she had not given any out before hired security grabbed her by the arms and literally dragged her from the room, down a flight of stairs and threw her onto the street. Ms. Cusic documented her injuries after not being allowed to regain her footing.

She wrote an account of her experiences for Bilerico Project and included photos of her injuries taken by a physician...

Be sure to read the rest of that account at Bilerico. Charming stuff.


Anonymous said...

I have this ongoing argument going on in my space.

People who I think are incredibly self-centered: "Things are getting so much better now!"

Me: Um, no, not really - gay panic defense, transpeople in the media, transpeople being assaulted for being trans, race issues, adoption, blood donation, class issues, etc etc etc

PWITAISC: But things are getting better! They are!

Me: ARG!

It matters, it matters, it matters. I don't care if at the end of the day I can marry my lover if I know my best friend, who is gender queer, gets panicked at the idea of going to the bathroom in an unfamiliar town. I don't I've "won" anything because my workplace is inclusive when I know that it's unsafe for my bi male friend to come out at his workplace - or even to our shared social group.

But gosh - I'm being "inflammatory" if I get fed up with nice middle class folks writing to the paper that things are So!Much!Better!Now!

Yeah - for some of us. Which obviously means the some of us who are allowed to matter should be standing up for the rest of us who don't.

Lisa Harney said...

First, you credit Monica Roberts, but the link is to my blog.

Second, I liked how some of the HRC supporters in that Bilerico thread were talking about how loud protest is bad, and how planning to protest is bad (Hello, Rosa Parks. Hello, Stonewall).

Yes, troubinchina, It's too easy to think things are better if your privilege allows you to avoid the worst of it. :( Tired of that meme, too.

belledame222 said...

oops, thanks, will fix.

queen emily said...

Lisa: There was Transamerica! EVERYTHING'S FIXED.

Didn't you get the memo? Jeez.

Kristen said...

Goddamn it. Every time I read Questioning Transphobia my head nearly explodes with rage. (My husband can already identify the specific gurgle of frustration when the articles hit my google reader.)

I need to channel this into something productive. Mostly I've just been listening and learning (clearly going to continue with that part) but in the meantime anyone know something I can do to help. Somewhere to donate? Somewhere to volunteer? There are a lot of them listed on the google and the wiki, I'm not sure which ones are best.