Sunday, July 19, 2009


One of the things I've always liked about Vanessa Edwards Foster is that she doesn't lose sight of the goal: actual equality. I agree with her that our standards are low when it comes to justice for the trans people, and their families and friends, who are murdered. I agree that "manslaughter" is not murder, and that shooting at someone who is basically a sitting duck in a car can't possibly have been an accidental killing.

But what I don't agree with is the vitriol directed at the LGB leadership of the organizations that called the ruling on Teisha Green's murder a victory.

Our standards are low because we are too used to seeing no justice at all when it comes to people who intentionally hurt and kill trans people for being trans. There are too many cases that break your heart. There are too many families who have had to hear the most hateful bullshit about their trans loved one. There are too many cases that are simply not solved, nor investigated.

But that the jury came back to rule her death a hate crime is a good thing.

What bothers me about the politics between the LGB & T is that there are plenty of other gay bashings and hate crimes experienced by the LGB that the trans community pays little attention to, such as Sean Kennedy's. If you want an example of an absolute failure when it came to our legal system, that's it. It's horrific. Every time I see that young man's beautiful face, and think about his parents' loss, I wonder where exactly the trans community has been in raising awareness of that horrible injustice. No, he wasn't gender variant. He was a young adult who was out and proud about being gay. But he's dead just the same as Teisha Green is, & for the same reason: someone hated him for what he was.

Do we know Michael Scott Goucher? Richard Hernandez? Satendar Singh? Ryan Keith Skipper? Jeremy Waggoner? Daniel Yakovleff? These are the names of gay men who have been murdered for being gay in the last couple of years. I didn't know most of their names.

Community goes both ways. We all have more than enough mourning to do.


Gina said...


Just to clarify, Dwight DeLee's manslaughter 1 conviction didn't state it was an accidental act, it stated it was meant to inflict 'grievous injury'... not death. Either way, it was an absurd judgment and, for myself, the hate crime aspect doesn't nearly make up for it. Teish's murder was an execution.

I think you need to re-read Vanessa's statements on the trial. She is angry because more mainstream LGBT groups are calling this verdict a victory. They ignore the injustice and absurdity of the verdict and how it devalues a transwoman's life. Vanessa is rightly upset because they're using this as a kind of media-op for their own legislative agendas (much of which I agree with) rather than focusing on the crime and the how Teish was viewed in the trial (which was as a gay man, not a trans woman). How would cis-gay people feel if transpeople declared the absurdly light sentence Sean Kennedy's killer received as "a victory"?

Helen, I totally agree with you about honoring all victims of hate violence and, most importantly, making certain their trials reach mainstream media coverage. Only with that will come a more general understanding of the scope of these crimes. I haven't read anything in Vanessa's writings about minimizing the horror these gay and lesbian victims, loved ones and families have gone through. If anything, I think she might say, where are GLB organizations when it comes to publicizing these murders? One press release is not enough. Is it because they're viewed as 'downers' or will produce burn-out within the community or the straight public? Those are the real questions we need to be asking.

Unknown said...

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts both Helen and Gina. I stumbled on this blog through the Bilerico Project. As a gay man, I have been enlightened and can share your perspective if brought up in conversation.