CommunityPam's House Blend

Beaten Down

If it weren’t for my kat Bon-Bon butting her head into mine most mornings (she’s hungry, and wants me to feed her), I know I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get up. I feel emotionally beaten down — being under my covers means life doesn’t have a chance to beat me down.  But, real life does break-in some days, and I do feel tired…worn.

Here in San Diego yesterday, a 19-year-old homeless transperson was really beaten down by a flashlight in Balboa Park. San Diego’s local affiliates for NBC and CBS both referred to the victim as a man — either a transgender man or cross-dressed man. So much for page 249 of the Associated Press Styleguide‘s direction of how to report on transgender people.

The CBS affiliate had this to say about the beating:

The beating victim was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries. Police are treating the attack as a hate crime, as the victim is transgender and witnesses say the suspect used derogatory terms to describe the victim’s sexual orientation during the assault.

I called both affiliates regarding the use of male terms for someone dressed as female, and the NBC affiliate’s person answering the newsroom telephone that the police now aren’t treating this as a hate crime. I’ll be calling the LGBT liaison officer on Monday to find out what exactly is the case, since per the reported witnesses the person doing the beating called out a gay epithet while hitting the transgender youth.

Meanwhile, reality crashed in from an update to a story about a Philadelphia murder — the police have refused to release the unedited 911 tape covering a courtesy ride police gave to transgender woman Nizah Morris. For those who don’t know about Nizah Morris, she was found with a fatal head injury on Dec. 22, 2002, shortly after police gave her a courtesy ride.

A previous Philadelphia Daily News article on the murder said the following about the some of the peculiar circumstances surrounding her death and the aftermath:

A witness testified yesterday that he had been struck by the lack of urgency by police and an ambulance team in tending to a transgender entertainer who was fatally injured near 16th and Walnut streets in December 2002.

The witness, who asked not to be identified, said he was driving on Walnut Street about 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 22 when he came upon Nizah Morris, 47, lying in the street in front of a stopped car.
The witness said he thought the car had hit and killed her because she didn’t appear to be breathing and no one was tending to her.

In addition, an ambulance had pulled up but no emergency lights or sirens were on.

And after two ambulance paramedics placed Morris on a gurney, they put her black jacket over her face as they put her in the back of the vehicle.

“I thought she was deceased,” he said, adding that he had not learned until he read a newspaper article that Morris had not died until two days later.

Police admitted they have a longer version of the tape they released in 2003.  As said above, the Philadelphia Police decided this week not to release the longer version of the tape.

And elsewhere, the transgender community is left wondering about the portrayals of transgender people on TV, such as the recent CSI New York episode where they showed the fictional CSI investigators calling the victim “John Doe” and using male pronouns, the new Ugly Betty transgender apparent “Dressed To Kill” character, and the whole Zarf/Zoe plotline on All My Children.

And me? I haven’t as yet been called back with final resolution information regarding my San Diego VA’s urgent care waiting area experience of hearing a patient say about me:

I can’t tell if that thing is a man or a woman.

As a transperson, I am feeling a beaten down today as I did yesterday before I went to bed — yet at least my feelings aren’t literal like the 19-year-old homeless transperson here in San Diego, or life-ending experiences of Nizah Morris’s.

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Autumn Sandeen

Autumn Sandeen

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