Sunday, December 28, 2008

If You Are A Black Transwoman Your Life Is In Danger

Not again I said as I read about the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.  Another woman shot and fighting for her life in Memphis because people feel challenged by her very existence.  How does their fear outrank her right to lead a life devoid of violence?  How does simply breathing the same air as everyone else render her so dangerous, that some feel that violence is the only response possible?

Like Duanna before her, Leeneshia is a trans woman of colour.  This is a very significant fact as the majority of the violent crimes committed against trans people occur against people of colour. Their vulnerability in a world that believes in and promotes a hierarchy of beings makes them easy targets. 

Leeneshia was shot in the jaw and the back, and at this time is in critical condition.  The police are hoping that she will regain consciousness so that she can identify her attacker. 

How many transwomen of colour have to be shot, violated, or murdered, for us to take what is occurring seriously?  This is a modern day holocaust occurring in our midst and we are denying its existence because of who the victims are.  Just like all victims of colour, the deaths of transwomen are largely being ignored by the mainstream media.  CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and FOX, all refuse to give these murders the attention that they deserve.  Unless the victims of crime are white women, the media seems to feel that it is an issue of little consequence.  They conveniently forget that each person is a child of someone. 

In the few articles that have appeared about her, the media has been quick to associate her with prostitution, as though this somehow justifies the violence that has occurred.  We are given no relevant facts about her life other than that she is a trans woman of colour and that she has been associated with prostitution.  Can anyone's life be so minimized in this way.  It is as though these aspects alone made up her entire identity.  We are meant to think of her as soiled, and beyond redemption.  By reporting her attack in this way without explicitly victim blaming the media has reduced her to a two dimensional being; and therefore less likely to illicit any form of empathy or emotion.  If we cannot connect with the victim there will no call for justice and just like many transwomen before her, Leeneshia will be quickly forgotten.  In a few months from now I will be writing another post about another trans woman who has become a victim of violence.

As I have repeatedly said, all bodies matter and this is something that needs to become a part of our social discourse.  We need to start to pressure the media and law enforcement agencies to takes these acts of violence seriously.  No matter the gender identity of any person, no one should have to live a life of fear, or be subject to acts of violence at the whims of another. 

I further call on our so-called black leaders to start speaking out about the violence faced by transwomen of colour.  If you claim to speak on behalf of the black community, then you have the responsibility to make sure that all of its members are not only equally represented, but that their rights are defended.  Stop preaching from the pulpit about Gods love and start practicing a little love thy neighbour. That is if you can pull yourself away from your megaphones, media whoring and bad perms, for five minutes.

Our trans sisters need and deserve our support.  Stand up and fight for Leeneshia.  Demand justice in her name.  No more blood of transwomen in the streets.  No more tears of transwomen due to our social ignorance.  The pain of our trans sisters is our pain. 

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