Transphobia and Homophobic Violence and Hate Crimes
Posted by Jack Stephens on February 21, 2008
Jack, at Angry Brown Butch, blogs:
On February 10, Sanesha Stewart, a young trans woman of color, was brutally murdered in her apartment in the Bronx. This is tragic and deeply saddening in and of itself, and part of a frightening and enduring pattern of violence against trans people. But because of this woman’s identities – trans, woman, person of color, low income – the tragedy doesn’t end with her death and the grief of those who knew and loved her. Instead, the mainstream media, specifically the Daily News, has managed to add to the tragedy with grossly disrespectful and transphobic journalism – if such garbage can even be called journalism. This, too, is part of a pattern, one that I’ve written about before. And yet, every time I read another disgustingly transphobic article, I’m still shocked and appalled that some media sources will stoop so low. Even in death, even after having been murdered, trans people are given no respect and are treated as less than human.
Perhaps advocates of hate crimes legislation believe that such laws would send a message to people that homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of prejudice and hatred are wrong. I don’t think it will. How could such laws counteract the prejudices that permeate our society? I seriously doubt that hate crimes legislation that is only brought up after someone is hurt or killed can make a dent in the ubiquitous flood of messages that we receive from politicians, religious leaders, the media and pop culture that queers and trans people are less deserving of respect and rights than straight and non-trans people.