More anseriform foolishness than is absolutely necessary.

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]

Dear Syracuse.com:
In regards to your newspaper’s website, would you do the world a favor by not including space for public comment (or at the very, very, least, provide some degree of moderation) on posts where you report the occurrence of crimes? On the increasingly rare occasions when your paper publishes crime details in a professional manner, I find it very troubling to see anonymous commenters speculating upon why the victim deserved to be have a crime committed against them (Too black? Too poor? Too queer? Too female?), contemplating future crimes against other supposedly deserving victims, and generally joking about how incredibly awesome they think rape, assault, and murder are. Today’s example comes from the online version of your article [TW] “Court papers: Vicious dog used to force woman to have sex with Syracuse man.” I know the First Amendment gives people the right to voice their opinions, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the job of journalists to silently observe, or worse yet, foment hate speech. I’m not sure what you expected to achieve by allowing the public to comment on police and court reports. What you have managed to accomplish is to increase the shame and terror that crime victims feel, as well as making Syracuse feel like an even more threatening and unwelcoming place. Seriously—I’d consider patronizing any of your many sponsors, but I’m terrified that I may run into some of your readers. Well done.

Addendum: The Post-Standard’s prompt response: “In every story there is a link that says “Inappropriate? Alert us.” Please use that and fill out the necessary information every time you see something inappropriate. It will go directly to our Interactivity Group who evaluates comments and determines whether they should be deleted, and if the user needs to be blocked.” This is about what I expected. Of course, the odds of me having the time and interest to personally help moderate every thread on Syracuse.com is about the same as getting a productive response to: ‘a woman in Syracuse was raped. Discuss anonymously.”


Originally published 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…