More anseriform foolishness than is absolutely necessary.

[Trigger warning for homophobia and violence]

Madame Secretary,

As you are undoubtedly aware, on Saturday, May 28, Moscow police stood idly by as protesters attacked participants in Moscow’s pride parade. Following the attack, [TW] police arrested several victims of the attack, including at least two Americans. Just prior to the parade, Russian authorities revoked parade organizers’ permit. Irrespective of the veracity rumors of police officers’ participation in the beatings, this last minute withdrawal clearly set the stage for this year’s parade to become the scene of violence, as has been the case in past years.

While I know you’re busy, I ask you to indulge a personal tangent.

Ten years ago this March, my partner and I went on our first date. We spent a week traveling throughout Estonia and Latvia (how this came to be our first date is a somewhat longer story). It was truly a magical experience, and we both cherish our memories of holding each other close while we explored Riga’s streets as winter sighed its last gasp.

Over the past ten years, our lives have changed. Seemingly ages ago, I came out as a transsexual woman. My partner and I are a very happy openly queer couple. We can’t go back to Riga. We fear that even in flusher times, we won’t be able to show our daughter the countryside from whence her ancestors fled war and poverty for life in the United States.

All that has changed in the last ten years is that my family no longer fits the narrow image that reactionary forces are willing to accept. This, and this alone, is enough to expose us to the threat of state-sanctioned violence.

Latvia is very proudly not Russia, and this is not about tourism.

There are people throughout Russia and throughout the world who are living in fear because of their governments’ distaste of their gender or sexuality. Some of these people are American citizens, such as those beaten and arrested this past weekend.

I understand the importance and delicacy of America’s relationship with the Russian government. However, I also understand the importance of our relationship with the Russian people– all of them.

I ask you to condemn the Russian government for its hateful, violent actions, and to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to human rights.

Yours,
Kate Forbes
Syracuse, NY

[Crossposted]

[Trigger warning for gun violence]

I’ve been trying to write about gun control for several months, but I keep failing. Guns terrify me. Specific instances involving specific guns terrify me. As do bullets. So many bullets. So here’s a quick post I’ve written over the last two days:

Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right. I think that’s the only productive framework under which debates about gun ownership can be held.

I know, the 2nd amendment, right?

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty confident that the 2nd Amendment is about the National Guard, but that’s not an argument I’ve been winning. Musket-loaders aren’t semi-automatic rifles, either. So, I’m not sure what the founding fathers would have said about our current situation, but more to the point, I don’t care.

Let me float the idea of repealing the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If right-wing zealots can muster the audacity to re-examine the 14th amendment (the Reconstruction-era everybody’s a fucking person amendment), then perhaps it’s time to gather the courage to look at the 2nd. Because honestly, if the 2nd is about state militia, we don’t really need it these days. And if (or more to the point, if it’s being interpreted as saying, which is the important thing) it’s about how everyone (at least everyone who’s part of “the people”, presumably as codified in the 14th) has a right to one or more guns, then, well, I disagree.

Repealing the 2nd won’t mean that nobody would be allowed to have any guns– it just means that it would be crystal clear that nobody would have a *right* to a gun. It means that nobody could claim that they were entitled to own a 30-round magazine clip, and if local, state, or federal officials felt that it was too dangerous to have these weapons on the street, then so be it.

Yes I know that this amounts to politicizing a horrific assassination attempt and massacre to talk about preventing future massacres, but so be it. It’s always a horrifying time to talk about gun control, but nothing that happens in my neighborhood is going to lead to a national debate. Besides, these things take time– just ask James Brady.

[Trigger Warning: transphobia, violence, including sexual violence]

November 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to acknowledge, publicize, and mourn the lives lost to transphobic violence in the past year.

I’m simply too tired to go into all the gory details. I’m afraid I didn’t get to the local ceremony. Perhaps the local university never found someone to step up and organize an event. My bad.

At its base, I think the day of remembrance is about safety. As far as I’m concerned, one of the most basic human rights is having the ability to move about one’s neighborhood without fearing the probability of violence.

At the moment, I don’t feel that I have that freedom. I’m certainly not alone in this– many of us who are able to get around cannot be certain we’ll be able to do so safely. Many of us fortunate enough to have homes do not feel safe therein.

Transphobia is a major contributor to the violence many of us face (to say nothing of homelessness).

The day of remembrance is a time to bring transphobia front-and-center in discussions of violence. It was conceived of, and still is, a radical act– the public commemoration of our dead in a world that trivializes our existence. Read more…

[Trigger Warning: Violence]

No.

But thanks for playing.
On second thought, get bent, CBS.
Earlier this morning, the CBS morning show-Saturday edition aired an interview (link forthcoming) with a former colleague of Yale lab tech Raymond Clark III. New Haven police recently arrested Clark, who they’ve charged with murdering Le. But enough about her, what about Clark? What possible injustice could have driven Clark to the brink?
Did I mention that Clark was a lab tech?
So, this is pretty much where my head explodes. The interview covers some really important ground. Working in a lab is stressful. Given the very real threat of vandalism and violence from animal rights protesters, there are security concerns to be mindful of. In part as a result of society’s concern for animals’ welfare, there are strict protocols to follow. Also, there’s science afoot, so it’s important to be very precise, lest you mess up the one experiment that was finally going to cure all that cancer.
But wait, there’s more! There’s a nasty power hierarchy in science and the academy. Presumably there’s a rich, good-looking professor at the top, who drives a brand new Beemer to the office in order to decide what top-flight journal to publish in, and maybe answer the occasional inquiry from the Nobel committee. Punk 20-something grad students and post-docs with college degrees, who may come from money, who may or may-not have social skills do most of the sciency-bits. And of course, they’re the ones supervising the techs– who may not have a college degree, are probably fairly likely to come from working class backgrounds, and may well be older than the grad students who are totally on their way to becoming big shots in their own rights. Yet the lab techs are doing a lot of the work. They’re making $8.50 an hour. And people refer to them as janitors, despite the vital role of lab techs in making bio-medical research possible.
These are all very real, very important points. We should totally have a discussion about them in the near future. Perhaps we can air it on CBS. But fortheloveofgod, not in the context of explaining why some poor guy needed to kill a graduate student.
As for Clark’s potential motivations, let’s review the circumstances:
“Went off” doesn’t quite cover the nature of the relationship. As the NY Post puts it, Yale Lab Tech “Forced” Ex into Sex. (which is rape, but as always, I thank the Post for the quotation marks and paraphrasing).
Ms. Le was murdered on her wedding day.
And this one’s important: working as a lab technician is not a justification for violence.
As has been the case with lots and lots of recent horrible acts of violence, this case shines a light on a culture that at times gives a wink-and-a-nod to violence against women. And while I haven’t seen a lot of folks waving pom-poms for sexual violence, by trying to make Le’s murder an understandable act caused by a nice guy’s(TM) misfortune, CBS certainly isn’t helping the next victim.

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

[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.