Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some things are getting out of hand

Some of you may be aware of an upcoming trial of Dwight DeLee which begins July 13. He’s accused of murdering Lateisha "Teish" Green with a rifle outside a house party in Syracuse, NY. Teish was a 22 year old transitioning transwomen. Teisha was sitting in a car with her younger brother Mark while attending a party when Dwight DeLee came over to the car with a rifle and fired his weapon. Dwight DeLee is alleged to have made a number of hate remarks about Teisha and her gender presentation and sexual orientation at the party. Her brother was injured during the attack, but Teish was mortally wounded and was pronounced dead at the hospital. I feel that our community must stay on top of this case just as we did in Angie Zapata.
I’m not sure what the deal is lately but I have noticed attacks on trans people on the rise. Even closer to home we had two attacks within a month of each other. Luckily these women survived.

From On Top Magazine:
Two men face up to 15 years behind bars for assaulting a transgender woman in Queens, New York on Wednesday, NY1 reported.
Carmella Etienne says she was pelted with rocks and beer bottles by Nathaniel Mims, 25, of the Bronx, and Rosheed Thomas, 22, of Queens.
The 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer says the men called out homophobic slurs at her – and threatened to kill her – as they attacked her.
“I was being attacked because of who I am,” Etienne, who was treated for a large cut to her leg, told the New York Daily News.
“I'm pretty traumatized,” she added.
Thomas admits to the name calling but says the victim did not see him throw anything, according to prosecutors. The two men were arraigned on Friday.
The incident comes on the heels of a nearby Jackson Heights assault where a transgender woman was beaten by two men with a belt buckle. Thirty-year-old Leslie Moran says her attackers repeatedly called her “faggot” in Spanish as they beat her. Two men, Trinidad Tapia, 19, and Gilberto Ortiz, 32, have been charged with assault in the second degree. The transgender rights group Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) and other advocates have urged authorities to charge the men with hate crimes enhancements.
“There's mounting concern in the community and anger at the violence and prejudice,” Brendan Fay, a leader in the LGBT community in Queens, told the paper. “Clearly these aren't isolated incidents.”

We're sad to bring you the news of another brutal attack on a transgender woman, this one coming during the height of LGBT Pride month. On June 19, 2009, at approximately 2:30 am, Leslie Mora was walking home from a nightclub on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens when she was accosted by two men who brutally beat her with a belt. They stopped only when a passing motorist threatened to call the police. Throughout the attack, Leslie’s assailants called her a “faggot” in Spanish. The attack left Leslie with multiple injuries, including bruises all over her body, and stitches in her scalp. Police called to the scene found Leslie nearly naked and bleeding on the sidewalk. They also recovered a belt buckle from the assailants that was covered in blood.

On top of that the Queen District attorney is refusing to prosecute this case as a hate crime. WTF! How many trans people must be attacked or even murdered before our government takes this seriously? The media does not help in most cases either with their biased reporting (or no reporting at all) of the cases. I’ve seen too many reports where wrong pronouns are used or just refusing to report their correct gender identity. Teish’s case is a prime example of terrible reporting. In the first reports out on the murder the paper in Syracuse referred to Teish as he or man throughout the news article. People, she has been fulltime since she was 16.
I don’t know what it will take, but our society has to change. Transgender people have been around since the beginning of time, and that’s not going to change. We have been silenced for far too long. One thing I do see as a positive, is that trans people are making their mark on our society in positive ways. We are SLOWLY making turns for the better in our own lives and I believe it’s come mostly through positive education. Positive episodes such as 20/20, CNN, and a few others have made their mark. Also laws in some states have changed for the better. All this has changed because of people like you and I. We must make our voices heard and speak out against the injustice that we see in our daily lives. It will only get better if we can make our voices heard. Without our voice and our stories, the world will continue to leave us behind. For me, that is not acceptable.


Melissa said...

No amount of public awareness, or education on trans issues will ever stop ignorant thugs like that, from assaulting trans women. Men who assault trans women, are unsure of their own manhood, and they overcompensate by being overly macho. They loathe homosexuals, as the antithesis to, and betrayers of their preferred macho male archetype. They don't see trans women as females, they see them as gay men, who are out to deceive them into having a homosexual relationship. They are actually often turned on by trans women, and that infuriates them, because it betrays their affected macho image. They blame the trans woman for this assault on their ego, and direct their rage towards her.

What to do? Ensure that hate crimes laws, that include very stiff penalties for assaults on transgendered people, are passed and enforced in every municipality. People on the political right will put up strong resistance to such laws, saying we already have laws to punish people for assaults, but that resistance must be overcome. Many police and prosecutors are transphobes and homophobes themselves, and unless they are mandated to protect trans people and prosecute their attackers, they will continue to allow these thugs to get away with their assaults, until some unfortunate trans woman or trans man is murdered.

And a word to the wise. Don't foolishly put yourself in harms way. Protect yourself at all times. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If things don't feel right, leave immediately. And don't ever go out on the street at night alone. Carry your cell phone with you, and don't be afraid to dial 911 if you feel threatened.


Michelle said...

Hi Melissa,
Thanks for commenting. I agree that we not not going to ever rid our nation of these thugs. I also tend to agree with you on your assertion that they tend to be unsure of there own manhood. We make easy targets for these fools. But I still feel that education is still key. Even though it may not make these thugs look at us any different, I also think that the education will eventually make it harder for them to condone there actions. Eventually society will step in and say that this is not right and will alienate them and not us. I understand that we will still have some air heads still do this, but if we look back at African Americans many years ago, many people in this country had similar attitudes towards them. Threw education our society changed to accept African Americans more then ever. Yes I know they still have issues, but it is better then it was 30 or 40 years ago. It is also better for us now, but we have SO far to go yet to make it comfortable for most transgender people to go out in peace. I will also totally agree with you on the changes in the laws. I think it should be mandated at federal level and not just by a state by state basis.
P.S. Did you hear about the threats against the witnesses at Teish's trial. I wrote another blog on that one.
Thanks again for your valuable input.
Hugs Michelle

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