|There are crimes, and then there are hate crimes|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Thursday, 13 May 2010 17:55|
Colle Carpenter, a transgender student from California, was attacked in the men's restroom on the campus of California State University, Long Beach, and had the word "it" carved into his chest.
There is no denying he was attacked for who he is and that the attack was meant to sent a message to a specific group of people.
The attack occurred April 15. A rally was held April 29 on CSU’s campus to support Carter. At the rally that attracted hundreds, he talked about what happened to him.
“The person who attacked me knew my name, pushed me back in a stall and carved ‘it’ into my chest,” Carpenter said. “For those of you who don’t know why ‘it’ is such a derogatory term, it takes away a person’s humanity. It takes away their personhood. It makes them less than human.”
And many people, even some in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, tend to see trans people as not human. Gender identity and gender expression, for many of us, remains a biological trait and can only be determined by what organs we have. That thinking needs to stop.
Interestingly, it was almost exactly one year ago from when Carpenter was attacked that a Colorado man was convicted of murdering a transgender person — the first time in the nation that a state hate crime law was used successfully to send a person to prison for a hate crime against a transgender person.
Allen Andrade was sentence to life in prison without parole for killing Angie Zapata, a transgender woman Andrade met online in the Colorado case.
The brutal murder of Zapata made national headlines and LGBT groups hailed Andrade’s conviction as a “landmark decision.”
When President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. act into law last year, it became the law of the land — every state in the nation must now investigate crimes like the one against Carpenter to determine if a hate crime exists and, if so, prosecute them as hate crimes with stiffer penalties.
Carpenter’s attacker hasn’t been found yet. Police continue to investigate this as a hate crime.
But the truth is, transgender people are constant targets of crime and harassment, because, again, many people don’t see them as actual human beings.
In Atlanta, a young trans man filed a police report because he was harassed by a security guard at Atlanta Underground because of the bathroom he used.
On Feb. 29, 2004, Atlanta resident Precious Armani was shot in the head. Her killer has never been found.
While Carpenter was not killed, cases like the ones against Zapata are rampant. Other notable murders of trangender people include Gwen Araujo and Branda Teena, who the movie “Boys Don’t Crime” was based on.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports as far back as 2003 a rise of violence against transgender people.
“One reason it's so tough to prove that anti-transgender murders are hate crimes is that so few are ever solved. Of the 27 murders in 2002 and the first nine months of 2003, arrests had been made in only 7 —fewer than one-third — at press time. The general ‘clearance rate’ for murders is almost twice as high, around 60 percent,” SPLC reported.
On May 18 in Atlanta, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are hosting a conference to educate law enforcement about the federal hate crimes law. Community organizations are also invited to attend from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The conference will be at the student center auditorium of Georgia State University.
It’s my hope this conference is packed.
No person deserves to be harassed, discriminated against, turned down for a job, turned away from a homeless shelter and killed simply because who they are doesn’t fit someone’s standards of male or female.
A person is not an “it.”
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