Blaming The Victim, Angie Zapata, For Her Own Death
From the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) media release/action alert, entitled Take Action: Demand that Colorado Radio Host Trevor Carey Disavow Remarks Condoning Violence Against Transgender People:
In a disturbing diatribe on KNUS radio on March 14, host Trevor Carey engaged in a conversation with a caller in which both men condoned violence against transgender people, blaming slain Greeley, Colo. resident Angie Zapata, an 18-year-old transgender woman, for her own brutal murder.
(Transcript from Colorado Media Matters):
CAREY: And what the transgender segment of our society needs to be telling their type is, you don’t commit fraud because –
CALLER: No, that’s exactly what it was.
CAREY: A), you’re at least gonna get your teeth kicked in, and B) – [caller laughs] – here’s a story from Greeley that turned out very tragic, and you should pay attention to this, because –
CALLER: You know, when I was growin’ up in Greeley, I grew up in Greeley, that kind of stuff didn’t ever, you know, surface in this town. And it’s just sad, you know; my heart just weeps for all, everybody that’s concerned. But, you know, we gotta go back to basics. You’re a man or you’re a woman, and, like you said, if you’re fraudin’ somebody, then you deserve to have your teeth kicked in. Not necessarily hung or you’re killed, but it just – they shoulda known better, you know?
[Y]ou deserve to have your teeth kicked in.
Let me repeat the sentiment of the caller again:
You’re a man or you’re a woman, and, like you said, if you’re fraudin’ somebody, then you deserve to have your teeth kicked in. Not necessarily hung or you’re killed, but it just – they shoulda known better, you know?
Where does one begin when our society frequently blames victims of crimes for the behavior of criminals? How do people in my community deal with the reality that no matter if a male-to-female (M2F) transsexual has or hasn’t had genital reconstruction surgery (GRS), no matter how long ago an M2F transsexual may have began her transition and/or had GRS, she is going to be seen as being deceptive if she doesn’t disclose to potential sexual partners before engaging in any intimate behavior — even as little as holding hands. In fact, even in day-to-day interactions — even as innocuous as buying groceries at a market — many people feel deceived by transsexual women if they don’t disclose that they were born with male genitalia. No matter what a transsexual does to align the sex found between his or her legs with the gender between his or her ears, a transsexual is considered deceptive if he or she doesn’t disclose in all situations.
I’ve watched trans people blame Angie Zapata for her own death. They’ve expressed the sentiments of the caller: She shoulda known better.
There’s a parallel is how young people view Chris Brown’s alleged physical abuse of singer Rihanna and how Angie Zapata’s death is treated by many adults. In a survey accomplished by the Boston Public Health Commission in February, almost half of the Boston’s teens think Rihanna is to blame for the assault that allegedly took place on February 6th. In addition:
[Below the fold: The term trap, the concept of transgender deception, and what GLAAD is asking us all to do about the Trevor Carey radio broadcast]
Of the 200 Boston youths (ages 12 to 19) surveyed, 51 percent said Chris Brown was responsible for the incident, while 46 percent said Rihanna was responsible and 52 percent said both were to blame.
Additionally, 52 percent said the media was treating Brown unfairly; 44 percent said fighting was a normal part of a relationship; and even more shocking is that a “significant” number of respondents said “Rihanna was destroying Chris Brown’s career.”
Add into it the concept of transgender deception goes back a ways, and many adults seem to buy into the idea that trans people are asking for it.
For me, the first time I was exposed to the idea that transgender deception was an excuse for murder was in a piece by Debra J. Saunders for the San Francisco Chronicle, entitled No Comedy Of Errors (June 24, 2004). In the piece, she wrote about the retrial of the killers of Gwen Araujo:
… I thought, while Araujo may have been born with male sex organs, she also was endowed with a burning desire to be a woman. That desire led the 17-year-old to change her appearance so that she could pass as a girl, to adopt the name of Lida, and eventually to have sex with two men who, on discovering that Araujo was male, allegedly joined with other friends to kill her in a particularly brutal manner.
Araujo died because she was a he…
…”What I keep hearing was that Eddie was just being Gwen, just being the person she felt she was,” defense attorney Thorman complained. “My response is that I don’t take away her right to be who she is, but my client has a right to be who he is, and it seems to me that if our appreciation of diversity and the right of people to be who they want to be means something, then we have to respect other choices as well.”
Let me be clear: Araujo’s deception in no way justifies her murder. But it was wrong, destructive and self-destructive.
Transgender advocates make a big mistake when they argue that the teenager was not guilty of deception, or that Araujo had no obligation to tell her sex partners about her gender. What these advocates, in effect, are telling transgender teens is that it is OK to play with fire.
In one of my first acts of transgender activism, I wrote a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle which the Chronicle posted on June 26, 2004, under the title “I Am Not A Deceptive Liar.” In that letter I wrote:
I vehemently disagree with her conclusion that transsexuals are living deceptively. This is biological determinism: Transsexuals mislead others when not acting in a manner consistent with societal norms of sex-typed clothing and behavior. She has in so many words stated that transsexuals must live as their biological sex to not be considered deceptive liars.
Eric Vilain, chief of medical genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has stated, “Sex should be easily definable, but it’s not. Our gender identity — our profound sense of being male or female — is independent from our anatomy.”
Saunders should be so enlightened.
The “answer” isn’t found in expressing that transgenders engage in deception, but instead in holding accountable those who murder transsexuals and other transgenders as being without excuse. The state Legislature should immediately take steps to outlaw “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses instead of buying into this “guilty of deception” baloney that Saunders has bought as the truth.
I am a transsexual, but I am not a deceptive liar. I take great offence that Saunders implies I am one.
Well, these days, I say something similar with a little less fire in the belly.
There are fine, but blurry lines between telling trans people that they should go with eyes wide open when they enter the dating pool (specifically because many people one may date will consider the shape of your genitalia at your birth to be very significant), telling trans people that their lives are deceptive at all times (and especially when they don’t disclose to potential dating partners that they’re genitalia haven’t always matched the sex that they are presenting as), and telling trans people that they are responsible for violence taken against them if they don’t disclose the gender between their ears — the gender they present in their daily lives as — doesn’t align with the shape of their genitalia at birth. I’m personally not being deceptive when my gender expression is female; I found my gender expression was both painful and deceptive when, after age 14 (when I first consciously realized that my gender identity was female), I used to present as male.
But if my trans peers and I become attractive to heterosexual men, we become traps:
Slang, generated from 4chan and ytmnd, the term is used to describe an individual whose appearance is that of a very attractive female, yet in reality, it is a male. Synonymous with transvestite, tranny, toss-up, crossdresser, and others…The term was also propagated with the use of images of Admiral Ackbar, a character from Star Wars, whose biggest line was exclaiming, “It’s a trap!” in effort to warn the X-wing fliers of a sudden turn of events.
So, I circle back to GLAAD. The organization states this on its website about the terminology of transgender deception:
Defamatory: “deceptive,” “fooling,” “pretending,” “posing,” or “masquerading”
Gender identity is an integral part of a person’s identity. Please do not characterize transgender people as “deceptive,” as “fooling” other people, or as “pretending” to be, “posing” or “masquerading” as a man or a woman. Such descriptions are extremely insulting.
It is the concept of deceit that leads to the gay panic defenses of people who have violently killed trans girls and trans women.
And, in the well known case of Brandon Teena, a form of gay panic was claimed in the killing of a trans man. In the case of Pvt. Barry Winchell, he was considered a fag because he dated a transgender woman — pretty much gay panic by association.
GLAAD is asking all of us in their Action Alert for the following from us:
Please contact Trevor Carey and ask him to disavow his remarks that condone violence against transgender people. Call on KFKA and KNUS to hold Carey accountable for his remarks and establish clear standards to ensure their media platforms will not be used to condone or promote violence towards any parts of the communities they serve.
Please forward this link to any of your friends and others who may also wish to take action. When contacting KFKA and KNUS, please ensure that your emails and phone calls are civil and respectful and do not engage in the kind of name calling or abusive behavior that we are expressing our concerns about.
Host, KNUS, “Trevor Carey” and KFKA, “AM Colorado with Trevor, Troy and George”
Phone: (720) 434-2714
General Manager, KFKA
Phone: (970) 356-1310
Operations Director, Salem Communications (KNUS)
Phone: (303) 750-5687
Much like the Gwen Araujo trial, I have a feeling trans actvists and GLAAD are going to have to be vigilant in monitoring the media coverage of the Angie Zapata trial. I have a feeling it’s going to continue to be pretty nasty.
* Talk Show Endorses Violence Against Transgender People
* Angie Zapata Trial: Andrade’s Murder Confession Thrown Out
* Remembering One Of Our Dead
* Arrest In Killing Of Angie Zapata
* Murder in Colorado