More anseriform foolishness than is absolutely necessary.

[Trigger Warning: Transphobia and violence]

As many people are aware, this morning the jury reached a verdict in the trial of Dwight DeLee for the murder of Lateisha Green. That verdict was that DeLee was guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime, and of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. I am relieved that the trial ended, and I hope that this verdict brings some small degree of closure to Green’s friends and family, who have suffered tremendously in the months since Lateisha’s murder. I’m pleased to see that they have taken some solace in the ruling.

Personally, I am glad to see that the jury recognized that hatred against queer people (although the statute as written and interpreted applies only to actual and perceived sexual orientation) was behind this horrible crime. I’m not a big fan of the manner in which our society uses prisons as a way of dealing with crime. I don’t feel that longer sentences deter crime. However, I am tremendously upset that the jury did not recognize this crime for what it was– murder. In my opinion, pointing a gun inside a car window and firing represents an intent to kill somebody. Further, while the jury did find Dwight DeLee guilty of a hate crime, I’m still concerned that the identity of the car’s passengers may have impacted the way they viewed the crime. I’m not a legal scholar, and am not aware of cases of other people who have been shot and killed in a similar manner, but I’d like to think that their cases brought murder convictions.
Read more…

[Trigger Warning: Transphobia and violence]
As of this writing, the trial of Dwight DeLee has gone to the jury for deliberations.

Laura Vogel of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TDLEF) has been posting thorough summaries of the testimony. At the moment, I’m not inclined to discuss much other than pointing folks to the summaries, which describe in graphic and uncomfortable detail the events of November 14. Here are links to TDLEF‘s summaries for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here are a couple of observations for future consideration:
In both the defense and the prosecution’s closing statements, attorneys referred to Star using a male name (presumably her birth and/or legal name) followed by her name. All attorneys used female pronouns in reference to her.
The defense attorney stated that on the evening of November 14, Lateisha Green [referred to using her birth name] was wearing nothing “that says this is a person a different sexual orientation.”
Chief Assistant DA Doran reminded the jury that the hate crimes statute is written to include crimes based both on actual and perceived sexual orientation: “It’s not about whether [Lateisha Green] was gay (we know he [sic] was).”
I need to let a certain amount of time pass before I write anything substantial, but I do want to make the observation that there is no reason why attorneys could not simultaneously respect Lateisha Green’s identity while simultaneously seeking a hate crimes conviction on the basis of perceived sexual orientation. The lack of nuance on the part of those who ridiculed Mark Cannon, Teish, and Star is neither inconsistent with the application of a hate crimes enhancement, nor is it justification to disrespect Lateisha Green’s identity.
My perception is that the attorneys’ decisions to refer to Lateisha Green as if she were a gay man is either strategic or related to their interpretation of their duties as professionals. I find the whole situation infuriating, and at some point may make more pointed comments about the judge and attorneys, and a legal system imbued with cissexual privilege. I want to challenge that privilege and those who perpetuate it, but I also am convinced that all parties involved were acting in a highly professional manner, and in a very respectful manner (within the context of that privilege).
Also, I want to voice my annoyance at seeing the local media refer to Lateisha Green as a transgender person or transgender individual. These statements are true, but it offends me to see media outlets avoid referring to her as a woman, either through ignorance or otherwise.

Originally posted at Duck, Duck, Gay Duck the First.

[Trigger Warning: Transphobia and violence]
Just some quick notes before I need to head to work for the day:

Prior to the start of the day’s proceedings, Judge Walsh addressed the gallery to express his displeasure with a melee that occurred yesterday. He said that the event was a disgrace to the life and legacy of the victim (using her birth name), who was ‘a peaceful man.’
In testimony from Erica Allison (I’m unsure about the spelling of her last name), one of the prosecuting attorneys asked her about Lateisha Green’s sexuality (using her birth name). Ms. Allison replied that ‘he was a female.’ The prosecutor then attempted to clarify this statement by asking ‘so, he was a man dressed as a woman?’ Ms. Allison answered yes. An identical exchange occurred with respect to Star, a trans woman who was in the car seated behind Mark Cannon and Lateisha Green.
During cross-examination, the defense asked Ms. Allison if Green was ‘dressed as female’ the night of the 14th. Ms. Allison responded in the negative, stating that Green (using her birth name) was wearing a t-shirt, pants, and a head scarf and that his[sic] hair was not done up nice as it often was.
Personally, I’m upset to see the Judge erase Lateisha Green’s identity. This morning’s comments were part of a continuing pattern that I’ve seen from the prosecuting and defense attorneys, as well as witnesses. My blood pressure spikes at the term “man dressed as a woman”, particularly in this context. I understand that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have diverse ways of vocalizing their identities, and as I’ve previously noted, I never met Lateisha Green. However, I find these exchanges deeply troubling. Lastly, I’m upset about what I see as a trend within the trial that mirrors society’s double standard with respect to trans women and clothing. As other folks have repeatedly elaborated, a shirt and pants is standard dress for many, many women. Expecting trans women to dress in erotic, flashy or “flamboyant” manners, confounding trans identities with homosexual ones, and confounding these identities with offensive stereotypes of gay males is, well, offensive.
I need to run, and won’t be at the trial again until tomorrow. I assume TLDEF will post a thorough summary of the proceedings tonight.

Originally posted at Duck, Duck, Gay Duck the First.

[Trigger Warning: Transphobia and violence]

I’m going to be fairly limited in what I post about the trial for a number of reasons. First, I don’t want to overshadow the public statements of Lateisha Green’s friends and family by replaying the minutae of the trial. Along those lines, there are a number of non-profit, activist groups who are putting out responsible, carefully-worded and important statements about events surrounding the trial. Second, I don’t quite feel right about retelling all of the details of the evening of November 14, 2008 to the broader world. Frankly, I don’t enjoy hearing most of the details. I’m fairly sure that all parties touched by the events aren’t particularly thrilled about reliving that night, much less about having the details retold over-and-over on the internet. I would rather leave it to those more intimately tied to the murder of Lateisha Green and the subsequent criminal proceedings to post any such details, were they to deem it appropriate.

Before I make my limited observations, I’d also like to comment about my presence at the trial. I wrestled with whether or not to attend the trial, and whether or not to blog about it. I’ve been attending the proceedings because I take the murder of Lateisha Green personally. I’ve dealt with adversity in my life as a trans person—far less adversity than many (if not most) transsexual people deal with, yet far more than is acceptable. I’m familiar with the sobering stories of many trans friends, acquaintances and strangers. Listening to accounts by Green’s family, I am struck by how much love and support she was surrounded with, and how full of life she must have been. Based on what I’ve heard, it seems to me that in many ways Lateisha Green had a support network that many trans people would be envious of—the sort of support than all human beings deserve. Yet this was not enough to protect Lateisha from harassment and violence. I cannot tell you how much this saddens me. I am attending the trial because I’m hoping that the addition of one more person in the gallery will be a small gesture of support to Lateisha’s friends and family during this difficult time, and because my publically taking notice of the trial sends a message to the community that one more person takes violence (violence writ large, violence against trans people, and violence against a trans person, Lateisha Green) seriously. I also want to verify that the criminal justice system not only takes the tragic taking of Lateisha Green seriously, but also that those involved do justice to Lateisha by respecting her identity.

Here are comments on three things:

The use of names and pronouns

Throughout testimony for the prosecution that I witnessed (prior to 3:30 p.m.), authorities (multiple police officers, an EMT, and a medical examiner) referred to Ms. Green by her birth name, and used male pronouns in reference to her. The prosecution and defense did likewise.

I’m not sure what I’d expect, given that Ms. Green’s birth name was also her legal name. I never met Ms. Green and am loathe to ascribe her with an identity based on my experiences, although given statements from her family that she had been living as Teish for 4 years, and their consistent use of female pronouns in reference to her, this use of names and pronouns troubles me. I don’t want to speculate about the degree to which the usage of names and pronouns is due to cissexual perspectives on gender, or the degree to which the hate crimes designation is a consideration in how the prosecution has treated Ms. Green’s identity.


Clothing

When asked by the defense whether he noticed anything about Lateisha Green in respect to her sexuality, a police officer refered to her as a man dressed “flamboyantly” and as ‘a man dressed as a woman.’ During cross-examination, the defense discussed the specific clothing Ms. Green was wearing when the officer was observing her medical treatment, and stated that the clothing was not “flamboyant.”

While discussing the external portion of the autopsy, the chief county medical examiner gave a description of Lateisha Green’s underwear, followed by the observation that the sizing of said underwear was consistent with a woman’s undergarment. The defense objected to this statement, which led to a conference at the bench, after which the prosecution and witness moved on to other subjects.

I’m not going to deconstruct all of this, but again, I personally find all of the above statements troubling. In my opinion, popular depictions of trans women frequently pay undue attention to details of clothing, particularly undergarments. The term “flamboyant”, and phrase ‘man dressed as a woman’ are, in my opinion, very loaded. Presumably, much of this testimony and the back-and-forth about it is related to the hate crimes charge.

A point about an EMT

One of the police officers on the scene testified that an EMT who was treating Ms. Green hesitated after cutting away her shirt revealed a bra. The officer testified that he told the EMT to keep going, and that Ms. Green was a man.

It’s important to note that the hesitation that the witness mentioned was inconsequential in terms of the medical treatment that Ms. Green received. There was no discussion of or elaboration on the length of the presumably momentary hesitation. Again, in light of other testimony during the trial, I see this hesitation as inconsequential with respect to the trial, and Ms. Green’s death. However, as a transsexual woman living in Syracuse, I find this testimony deeply troubling. I see obvious parallels (and differences) with the death of Tyra Hunter. Again, I don’t want to make mountains out of molehills, but I’d also prefer to believe that one’s gender identity and expression does not impact the quality of emergency medical care that one receives.

There were lots of other developments today, but I’m assuming that TDLEF or others will touch on them. I’m not in a mood to discuss all of the minutiae of the trial, and I also don’t want to discuss things that I’m not prepared to discuss in an unemotional manner.

Originally posted at Duck, Duck, Gay Duck the First.


I’m in an optimistic mood this weekend, and much of it is because of two community events. In my experience, online community can bring people together, but to me, it can also make me feel isolating. I’m not sure what the rules are forming online communities, but they seem much more structured than offline ones. Online communities are often founded on common values. Offline, I often find myself in communities that are determined by proximity. Anyhow, here are two uplifting community responses to anti-LGBT bigotry in Syracuse. Read more…

[Trigger Warning: transphobia, violence]

This is difficult for me to write about, and I really hope I strike the right tone. I really, really appreciate the hard work that everyone in the trans, LGBTQ communities and our allies have placed on publicizing the senseless violence that takes places against trans people. I love that much (albeit not all) of the discussion has kept the humanity of the victims front and center. Nobody deserves to be murdered, much less to have their identity stripped away after the fact by the media, and by defense attorneys looking to justify the taking of a life. Lateisha Green’s murder troubles me deeply. I’m a transsexual woman and a mother. Talking about the taking away of somebody’s child because of who they makes me nauseous. I won’t be surprised if I spend much of the next week trying to stay away from news of the trial, because I simply can’t take it. I understand the need to focus on the horrifying consequences—and the need to prevent homophobia and transphobia (yes, the two are intertwined, and yes, that’s a discussion that’s been ongoing elsewhere).

Something about the response to Lateisha Green’s murder troubles me, though. I live in Syracuse. My friends and neighbors live in Syracuse. I feel the need to point out that crimes like Lateisha’s murder don’t happen in a vacuum. Furthermore, while violence against trans and gender non-conforming people is one of “my” issues, something I take very personally, I also care about all of my friends and neighbors, be they cisgender or transgender. When I see people from around the country speaking up about one of my neighbors’ lives being treated as disposable due to her identity, while remaining unaware or ignoring the rest of my city, I feel uneasy. I live here, and this city’s issues are my issues. How can I expect my neighbors to fight for my rights, when people like me seem hesitant to fight for my neighbors’ rights? Read more…