Tag: trans

Police Who Assaulted Black Trans Woman Serves No Time in Jail

Police Who Assaulted Black Trans Woman Serves No Time in Jail

Police who assaulted Black trans woman serves no time in jail.

In May 2019, a shop owner had a confrontation with Breonna “BB” Hill, a Black trans woman residing in Kansas, Missouri. Hill sought to resolve the dispute and contacted the Kansas Police. Soon after, officers Charles Prichard and Matthew Brummett arrived on scene.

Rather than conducting a thorough investigation into Hill’s complaint, Brummett and Prichard slammed Hill to the ground, handcuffed her and kneed on her neck. Brummett and Prichard can also be seen slamming Hill’s head onto the concrete and pulling her hands above her head.

Police Who Assaulted Black Trans Woman Serves No Time in Jail
Courtesy of Google

Roderick Reed, the individual who recorded the incident, continued to record Brummett and Prichard while they assaulted Hill. However, this resulted in Kansas Police charging Reed with a “municipal violation” for not obeying an officer’s commands.

Kansas Police eventually charged both officers with a misdemeanor but this charge was upgraded to a felony third-degree assault after the video of their assault against Hill went viral.

Five months after the officer’s assault, reports surfaced that a man named Allan Robinson shot Hill. Police initially charged Robinson with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. However, this count was reduced because prosecutors were of the opinion that Robinson shot Hill in self-defense.

Missouri is a state that does not prohibit the use of the Trans Panic defense. According to the American Bar Association, the Trans Panic legal defense legitimses and excuses violent and lethal behaviour against trans people. This defense has also been used on numerous occasions before a suspect reaches a jury, which shifts the burden to trans persons, who then must show they did not provoke the suspect’s violent reaction. While it is obvious to some, most do not see how this defense criminalises trans bodies in the United States.

In November 2022, a United States judge ruled that both officers did not have to serve time in jail.

Police Who Assaulted Black Trans Woman Serves No Time in Jail. Why Violence Against Trans Women Persists in the U.S.

When LGBTQ+ organizations fail to speak up for trans women, the LGBTQ+ community is fractured by distrust. In keeping with my thoughts in Is Trans Community Support Disappearing?, when the LGBTQ+ community are silent on the harms against trans women, they lose of critical source of moral and epistemic support within their own community—either through support withdrawal or death.

Hill’s death, in my opinion, is another ghastly case of what I call the Zaru Effect—when law enforcement officers close their eyes to harms perpetuated by private actors against trans women. It also involves law enforcement’s arrest of trans women for making complaints, and their failure to speak out against abuses that either causes the physical and sexual assault, or the incarceration and death of trans women.

Is Trans Community Support Disappearing?

Is Trans Community Support Disappearing?

Is trans community support disappearing? While it may appear that there is adequate support, it is my contention that LGBTQ+ positional power figures are not doing enough to advocate for trans people.

Transphobic behaviour and reactions to trans women is a clear indicator of marginalisation. These behaviors and reactions disempowers and oppresses them. It also intimidates them with values and decisions not of their own choosing. Take, for example, a trans woman who reports harassment to an LBGTQ+ advocate service, only to discover the service does not give her testimony epistemic weight. 

Testimonial Injustice

The failure to afford proper epistemic weight to her testimony appears in a variety of forms. Testimonial injustice is the most common. One example of testimonial injustice is when positional power figures disbelieve that trans women are being victimised, especially Black trans women. One reason for this is that Black trans women have a low societal position in the hierarchy. This leads one to believe that trans women will be further victimised or, experience what I call The Zaru Effect 

The Disappearance of Trans Community Support
Courtesy of Journey to the Center

The word ‘zaru’ comes from the Three Exemplary MonkeysMizaru, who sees no evil, covers his eyes. Kikazaru, who hears no evil, covers his ears; and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil, covers his mouth. See no evil and speak no evil are integral to the discussion, as positional power figures ignore and fail to speak up for trans people. In other words, they allow legal and moral wrongs to oppress trans people. Hear no evil is also vital, given the deafness of some advocate services and how they mishear harm. But according to Rachel McKinnon, trans victims are epistemically situated to perceive events properly. If so, positional power figures within the LGBTQ+ community should do more to advocate for them.  

To be sure, the Williams Institute found transgender persons of color, especially Black trans women, reported higher rates of police abuse.

Story of transwoman assaulted by police
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
The Disappearance of Trans Community Support
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
The Disappearance of Trans Community Support
Courtesy of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Is Trans Community Support Disappearing? If so, Can Anything Be Done?

Philosopher Talia Bettcher asserts positional power figures have a moral responsibility that consist of giving disadvantaged identities first person authority. In the Explanation of First Person Authority, Bernhard Thöle argues there is a presumption that present tense self-ascriptions of mental states are not mistaken.  Thöle further states while it is possible for others to discredit self-ascriptions, this cannot happen generally because the speaker is not mistaken when she sincerely self-ascribes mental states of a certain class. In other words, trans women are on a better epistemic footing to judge when others harm them. If so, then it follows that positional power figures should do more to advocate for them.

When LGBTQ+ organizations fail to speak up for trans women, the LGBTQ+ community is fractured by distrust. It also loses of critical source of moral and epistemic support within their own community. 

The disappearing act shows internal members and external groups that community is all but an illusion. A real showing of community is when positional power figures hold space for trans people. That’s when the real magic occurs. 

Why a Practical Definition of Advocacy is Key for the LGBTQ+ Community

Why a Practical Definition of Advocacy is Key for the LGBTQ+ Community

Here is why a practical definition of advocacy is key for the LGBTQ+ community: a narrow definition of advocacy and support does not exists. I’m serious; perform a Google or Bing search. I’ll sit here and wait.

While it is true that some define ‘effective advocacy’ as a service that enables nonprofits to shape the public debate on important social issues and to ensure underserved communities have a voice in the policies that impact their lives, this definition does not specify what social issues are necessarily important. Moreover, which communities are underserved? To what extent are those voices represented in policies? Other definitions for advocacy are the advancement and inclusion for transgender and gender nonconforming persons. However, what does advancement mean to these organisations? One cannot deny the state of being included into a group or structure is important, but is that it? How can one know? I guess we will never.

Quianna Canada's Sup-advocacy

Another conundrum I’ve encountered is the adoption by Twitter users of the rainbow or trans flag. Many of these profiles belong to individuals and organisations who are in positions of power. Yet many remain silent when LGBTQ+ persons are harmed. This raises the question as to whether the adoption of the flags are a spectacle. If not a spectacle, then what? One may interpret it as a show of solidarity and mutual support. But is it exactly that: a show? To what extent does solidarity ceases to be visible? When one raises their social profile? When the number of constituents achieved; elections won? When the trend ends?

All these questions point to the conclusion that the LGBTQ+ community should better define what it means by advocacy and support, as no unified definition can lead to ‘selective advocacy’ and marginalisation.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines advocacy as “public support for an idea, plan, or way of doing something” and support as “to help someone emotionally or in a practical way.” If we combine the words ‘support’ and ‘advocacy’ we have sup- advocacy.

What is sup-advocacy?

Sup-advocacy can be defined as the practical and public support LBGTQ+ organisations provide to marginalised members of their own community. Practical support means LGBTQ+ organisations provide a tangible action to marginalised members, rather than an idea of support (e.g., communicating with the Gardai on behalf on marginalised members to get answers on why the Gardai has failed to properly investigate a complaint). Public support means LGBTQ+ organisations protect marginalised members of their community by making phone calls, writing emails and letters, or withdrawing its endorsements from groups and organisations that harm members of the LGBTQ+ community. These actions show other groups that it will not tolerate the antipathy and unfair treatment shown to marginalised members of their community.

Who are marginalised members of the LGBTQ+ community?

UN expert on gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, said on December 16th that “Trans women are among the most vilified, disenfranchised, and stigmatized people on this planet.” Madrigal-Borloz, who encouraged the Scottish Parliament to adopt the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, disclosed that he witnessed “shocking acts of violence” against trans women, such as killings, torture and beatings. If trans women are especially vulnerable to acts of violence, why are they often last to receive sup-advocacy?

Why a Practical Definition of Advocacy is Key for the LGBTQ+ Community

Well, some people think trans women are stealthy and are always ‘hiding who they really are.’ If trans women are not being honest about ‘who they really are,’ then they are likely not being honest about what led to an act of harassment and violence. This argument is fallacious because it appeals to the popular belief that the more successful the trans woman in her preferred gender role, the more likely she is being deceptive. It also assumes there is only one explanation for the violence trans women suffer: her perceived ‘deception’. They have a point in thinking trans women are deceptively navigating the world in stealth. But this idea ignores several mitigating factors, one being the true purpose of transition, which is to align oneself in the preferred gender role.

Canadian philosopher, Talia Bettcher, asserts that authority figures have a moral responsibility to give trans women the benefit of the doubt. The strength of this approach is exploring other factors, such as external ones there were not considered before, that likely resulted in a trans woman being victimised. Nonaction only gives imprimatur to wrongdoers and emboldens them to commit acts of violence against trans women.

The LGBTQ+ community, in every nation, should trust trans women, should provide them with a critical source of moral support, and should put together a unified front against those who harm them. As stated by Bayard Rustin, “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.”

When LGBTQ+ organisations act as angelic troublemakers for trans women who are mistreated by unjust systems they are demonstrating an act of sup-advocacy. They are also troublemaking for a higher purpose.

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