Vicki Estrada: Thoughts On The Hate Crimes Bill Signature By The President
Below is a guest post by my best friend Vicki Estrada. She’s in one of the roughly 18,000 legal same sex marriages here in California, and has been a local activist on trans issues in my hometown of in San Diego.
She’s the owner and chief executive of Estrada Land Planning, and as a landscape architect involved with public planning for the City of San Diego, she wrote Balboa Park‘s Master Plan that was adopted by the city in 2008. She’s also designed public space in San Diego — in my opinion, the most interesting piece of public design from her is the Ocean Beach Skate Park.
Vicki also is the chair of the City of San Diego’s Community Forest Advisory Board, chair of the San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field) Art Advisory Committee, and a past chair of City of San Diego’s Commission of Arts and Culture, as well as a past board member of San Diego’s Diversionary Theater.
I asked Vicki Estrada, along with several other voices in the trans community, to share their thoughts on federal hate crime legislation being signed by President Obama on October 28, 2009.
By Vicki Estrada
Like any other weekday morning, I awoke this morning to the sounds of National Public Radio. An unusually cold morning for San Diego, I snuggled into bed for a few more moments of sleep and hopefully some last minute dreams which I so enjoy. Half asleep, I faintly hear the voice of Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality on the radio saying what a historic day today (October 28, 2009) is for Transgender people. This afternoon, President Obama will sign the Hate Crimes Prevention Act which will be the first time Transgender people will be mentioned in a Federal Act in a positive way. For this topic to be National news is significant enough but the signing of this Act is quite historic. Will the mere signing of this Act stop transphobia and transgender hate? Not initially of course, but it will bring our cause, our existence, our plight to the public forefront and it will allow local agencies to better fight and track down those that will partake in hate crimes against us and hopefully, help prevent these hate crimes.
As an openly out and proud Latina post-op transsexual that transitioned (quite publicly) four years ago and also in a same sex marriage, this is very good news indeed, but the underlying issue remains. Why is such a law needed in the first place? Why are we hated so? After all, this is a “Prevention Act”, not a “Prosecution Act”. The majority of our effort should be to educate and inform, to eliminate the fear that many have of transgender people. Only in this way, will transgender hate crimes be eventually eliminated. How do we do this? An anti-hate law is just the start. We need to integrate. We need to educate. We need to participate. We need to show our communities that we can be positive role models, leaders, creators and teachers. But we need to be given that chance, and that is where the problem lies. Today’s signing of the Act is just the beginning. Let us move forward with pride and not shame changing the perceptions and feelings of those that surround us. There will come a day when we are revered, not feared, but only if we continue the effort that so many have given that allowed today’s signing to happen.
NPR article and audio Vicki referrenced:
* Pam’s House Blend tag: Transgender Hate Crimes Essay Project