Given that transsexuals make up such a small fraction of the population, the regularity of murders demonstates the high homicide risk – especially for trans women. The latest victim is Minja Kočiš who was found dead in her Belgrade flat at the weekend. She had been stabbed twice in the stomach. There was no sign of robbery so the Serbian police are working on the basis that the murder was probably somebody she knew.
Tag Archives: hate crime
Human Rights Watch are calling for an investigation into the murder of Cynthia Nicole who was shot and killed on 9th January 2009. Cynthia was a leading activist fighting for transgendered rights in Hondurus, working closely with many transgendered sex workers. Cynthia was shot three times in the chest and head and it seems likely that she was deliberately targetted and that her murder was not a random event.
The situation for trans people in Honduras is volatile. Human Rights Watch report:
Nicole’s murder comes as violence targeting Honduras’s transgender community appears to be on the rise. In November and December 2008 there were attacks, two of which were fatal, against five other transgender people by unknown assailants. On November 20, an attacker killed Yasmin, a transgender sex worker and colleague of Nicole. The next day, on November 21, an attacker shot Bibi, another transgender sex worker, while she was working in the Obelisco, a park in the center of Comayaguela. On December 17, an attacker stabbed Noelia, a third transgender sex worker, 14 times. In addition to these attacks, on December 20, members of the police assaulted a transgender activist doing HIV/AIDS outreach work in Tegucigalpa.
In September, Ali Bracken reported on the human rights situation in Honduras. Her full reportis worth reading but an extract of the words of the pre-op transsexual Nicole Moreno paints a clear picture of life for trans women in Honduras:
My family didn’t want to know me. They don’t accept my sexuality. I got a job selling beauty products but it didn’t earn much. No-one else will give a transsexual a job. So I’m back on the streets again. I earn $5 for a blow job, $10 for sex in a car and $20 for going to a motel. I always tell customers I’m a transsexual, otherwise they might get violent. It’s very homophobic here, so it’s dangerous. I’m saving up for my sex change operation. I’ve spoke to a surgeon and he’ll do it for $3,500. He’s never done it before; no-one in Honduras has. I’d be the first. It costs about $15,000 in the US. I’ll probably go back there to work as a prostitute and then come back here to get my surgery. I think about it every day. It’s all I want from life.
In conjunction with Galop and Gaydar Girls, the Metropolitan Police in London have launched a survey on women’s experience of transphobia and homophobia. You may be asked to fill this in if you are visiting an LGBT venue: it is entirely voluntary of course. It is also possible to download the survey and send it in by email – as explained here.
While worthy, the idea of a survey to discover why women don’t report hate crimes seems somewhat strange. If people don’t feel comfortable reporting a crime, are they likely to volunteer to complete a survey? While this may make sense within the lesbian community, it seems to demonstrate somewhat poor understanding of the trans community in which so many are either in the closet or in stealth. Indeed, the whole idea of a gendered survery will be objectionable to many in the trans community. These flaws are compounded by presenting trans in terms of MTF or FTM, terms which only apply to those transsexual people undergoing gender reassignment and wouldn’t, for instance, apply to a TV who experiences transphobia while out as a woman? This feels like a survey that was designed within the LGB community and extended to cover transphobia without real understanding of trans issues. It could reduce the likelihood of trans people reporting crimes to the police and that would be unfortunate as the police are generally more trans aware than this flawed survey suggests.
There are further problems. The question “Are you a disabled person?” is difficult within the trans community. Legally anybody who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria is disabled according to the definition in the Disability and Discrimination Act, but many TS people do not feel themselves to be disabled. For the trans community the question should therefore have been asked as “Do you consider yourself to be disabled?”
The question, “To what extent are you ‘out’ as a lesbian/gay or bi woman or trans. person?” is also somewhat insensitive. It is one of the key differences between many trans people and lesbians. A non-passing trans person has no choice about being out. An FTM who is awaiting top surgery and still has a large chest may find it impossible to be anything other than out, as may an MTF with a masculine face and heavy beard growth.
The survery isn’t transphobic. There is an intention to do the right thing. But it does forcibly demonstrate a very poor understanding of trans issues. As he intention is to help, it may still be worth completing the survey, but if you feel that the many flaws are evidence of the problem, you may wish to contact the survey organiser to register a complaint – Susan Paterson of the Metropolitan Police at 11th Floor Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London SW6 1TR.