Fri Jun 8, 2012, 02:07 PM
Starry Messenger (31,300 posts)
Media Ignores Rash of Assaults on Transgender Women
While the attack on Polis was not as brutal as what happened to CeCe McDonald, it was filmed, and the video went viral, getting covered by ABC’s Good Morning America, as well as the Baltimore Sun and other newspapers. And unlike the others, the Polis case had a relatively good ending: McDonald’s fired the employee and compensated Polis (who is white), and the lead attacker was sentenced to five years in prison.
So how ought we to reflect on this tragic spate of violence? At the intersections of racism, sexism, and homophobia, these victims are triply victimized by stigma—four times over if we add in the element of class, and five times if we include transphobia as well. And we should; many reasonable people don’t yet understand that gender dysphoria is real, that gender is not defined by anatomy, and that transwomen like Chrissy Lee Polis are not perverted men in disguise, lurking in restrooms. (Conservative legislators frequently block protections for transgender people on the basis of this myth, as if stalkers need a legal pretext.) Precisely because transgender is a new concept for many people, trans people urgently need protection and respect.
Transphobia is not justified, and neither is ambivalence in the face of tragedy. Yet the reality is that transgender lives are new to many people, and they raise important questions our society has yet to address. Compared to other civil-rights movements, our national “evolution” on matters of LGBT equality has been remarkably fast, so fast that our culture has not yet articulated what it means. Are gay people to be welcomed because they are just like straight people, and therefore OK? Or should they be included because we all recognize that people are different from one another, and have a right to determine for themselves how to live their lives?
The difference between the two ideologies is what divides the so-called “good gays,” who simply want to go to the same country club as their straight friends, and those LGBT people—such as CeCe McDonald or Chrissy Lee Polis—who implicitly make a different set of demands. Yet novelty is no excuse for intolerance. It’s hard to believe that McDonald would go to jail if she were a “normal” (and white) gay or lesbian person like Dan Savage, or Ellen DeGeneres, or me. We’d understand that she was entitled to defend herself, and that she did not invite this violence by being flamboyant, gender-nonconforming, or black.
That last paragraph there is kind of awkward but I thought the whole snippet discussed something important that rarely gets covered in a mainstream site like Daily Beast.
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