Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
May 6, 2011
Transgenders Belong To Our Community
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
Transgender Attacked In MacDonald’s Restaurant
On April 18, in a MacDonald’s in Rosedale MD, a Baltimore suburb, a transgender woman was viciously attacked by two other women. A videotape of that attack went viral and we saw it before it was pulled from YouTube, The brutality of the attack is overwhelmingly shocking. The transgender woman is beaten, stomped, and dragged by her long hair across the floor. Equally shocking is that her two attackers are 14 and 18 years old. Most people present just watched, one employee took the video, another tried halfheartedly to stop it, and a 50-year old woman customer forcefully stepped in, but the attack stopped only when the victim lay on the floor in an epileptic fit.
The “T” In LGBT Stands For Transgender
A child is born. The doctor holds it, looks, and congratulates the mother on having delivered a healthy and beautiful son or daughter. How does the doctor know? Simple, by looking at the baby’s genitals and based on what is there, sex is assigned. Once assigned, implacable social forces begin to grind: roles are defined, behaviors taught, expectations formed. The doctor could be wrong. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines sex as a person’s biological status as either male or female. Gender, on the other hand, is a term used to describe how people feel about themselves and how they act and interact in social settings regardless of their assigned sex. How often does it happen that an assigned sex does not match the person’s gender? The APA estimates that two to three percent of males cross-dress and that 1 in 10,000 biological males wish to be female and 1 in 30,000 biological females wish to be males. Across large populations, that is quite a number of mis-identifications.
Violence Directed At Transgenders Is Marked By Brutality
During the “No on Prop 8” campaign we sometimes heard from members of the transgender community that the discussions and arguments failed to include them. It was true and it is wrong. Securing human rights for LGBTs means that all stories must be told and all voices heard. Still, transgenders are a group apart when it comes to violence. Social sanctions imposed for not following assigned gender lines include: schoolyard bullying, street harassment, property vandalism and murder. There is one other characteristic: brutality. A Gender Public Advocacy Coalition report states that transgenders were killed with violence “beyond that necessary to terminate life.”
How Do We Start Making It Right?
One of our mission statement’s three commitments is to education. We have to educate our community about the sexual and gender diversity within our cultures. What should we teach when a 14-year and 18-year old hate so much that they feel justified to physically attack a person who crossed the gender line? Where do a 14-year and 18-year old learn so much hate and so much contempt for a fellow human? Is it ignorance? Is it selfishness? Is it religion? Michael Kimmel thinks that our society requires that people fit into specific categories, male-female, gay-straight, good-bad. When they don’t we get uncomfortable, they must fit! So that is where maybe we should start developing material to educate, showing and practicing that between those categories there is a treasure trove of experience and life and humanity. We need help, we need to form strong coalitions. But we must do it.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org