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Report: violent murders used to reinforce cultural gender stereotypes

While we all know that young queer folks have to deal with being called “fag” or “dyke” on a regular basis in school and by other teens, the level of bias and harassment that escalates into violence and murder cannot be ignored.

The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) has released an eye-opening report on the murders of gender non-conforming young people, “50 Under 30: Masculinity and the War on America’s Youth.” The title refers to the 50 people under 30 years old who have been targeted and killed over the last 10 years because they did not fit stereotypes for masculinity or femininity in our culture.

“While many youth who don’t fit gender stereotypes for masculinity or femininity face harassment or bullying, when it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent,” said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC Executive Director. 

  “These victims tended to share the same characteristics: they were mostly Black or Latina, were biologically male and presenting with some degree of femininity, and were killed by other young males in attacks of extraordinary and often multiple acts of violence,” added Wilchins.

…“Aggression and violence have become acceptable ways of policing gender performance and punishing the transgression of gender boundaries in American culture.  These deaths were often the result of young men using lethal violence to enforce standards of masculinity on other young males who didn’t meet cultural expectations of masculinity – especially when they were transgender or gay,” said Dr. Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and author who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity.

…The annual FBI’s Hate Crimes Statistics report documents assaults motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. While it does not track murders based on victim’s gender identity or expression, if it did, the murders in this report would outweigh every other category except race.

A coalition of organizations, including Amnesty International (USA), Global Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Organization for Women, The Interfaith Alliance, International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Safe Schools Coalition, National Education Association – Health Information Network, and the US Human Rights Network, has taken on the task of educating the public, lawmakers and law enforcement officials on the statistics behind this gender-based violence documented in this report.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding