Day: 2015.09.07

Our Sadness

TG-logo-dark

It occurs to me that, while winter-season holiday shopping and promotions often start sometime during the summer, September has arrived and I haven’t done a thing for TDOR.

Neither, I am betting, have you. The list:

• Zella Ziona, 21, Montgomery County, Maryland, 15 October 2015.

• Kiesha Jenkins, 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 October 2015

• Tamara Dominiguez, 36, Kansas City, Missouri, 15 August 2015

• Elisha Walker, 20, Smithfield, North Carolina, 13 August 2015

• Kandis Capri, 35, Phoenix, Arizona, 11 August 2015

• Shade Schuler, 22, Dallas Texas, 29 July 2015

• Amber Monroe, 20, Detroit, Michigan, 8 August 2015

• K. C. Haggard, 66, Fresno, California, 23 July 2015

• India Clarke, 25, Tampa, Florida, 21 July 2015

• Ashton O’Hara, 25, Detroit, Michigan, 14 July 2015

• Jasmine Collins, 32, Kansas City, Missouri, 23 June 2015

• Keyshia Blige, 33, Aurora, Illinois, 7 March 2015

• Mercedes Williamson, 17, Rock Creek, Alabama, 30 May 2015

• London Chanel, 21, North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 18 May 2015

• Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, Miami, Florida, 16 February 2015

• Bri Golec, 22, Akron, Ohio, 13 February 2015

• Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10 February 2015

• Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36, San Francisco, California, 1 February 2015

• Yasmin Vash Payne, 33, Los Angeles, California, 31 January 2015

• Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler, Texas, 26 January 2015

• Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk, Virginia, 17 January 2015

• Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, Kentucky, 9 January 2015

These are the murders. We’re still counting the suicides.

Please say their names, every one of them.

And Heaven help us, let it stop here and now.

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Our thanks to Mitch Kellaway and Sunnivie Brydum at The Advocate; this is a harrowing list compiled from grim duty, and we really should be keeping our own tally. Meanwhile, at least someone has. Please … #SayHerName.

Kellaway, Mitch and Sunnivie Brydum. “These Are the U.S. Trans Women Killed in 2015”. The Advocate. 27 July 2015.

A Frightening Vista

Shagasyia Diamond, 37, who is transgender, was arrested in 2014 during a domestic dispute in the Bronx. She said she was put in a cell with men and was subjected to slurs by police officers. (Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

“I felt totally voiceless. Like I wasn’t even human. Like my safety didn’t even matter.”

Shagasyia Diamond

Well, to the one, this is your New York Police Department. To the other, that doesn’t really help. Noah Remnick of the New York Times explains:

Although the New York Police Department amended its patrol guide in 2012 to require respectful treatment of transgender people, Ms. Diamond, who is a transgender woman, said she was subjected to a strip search by a male officer. Two other officers watched from a few feet away, gawking as she spread her legs. Officers then placed Ms. Diamond in a cell for men, she said, where she cowered in the corner as other inmates heckled her and used the exposed toilet in her presence. When she expressed her discomfort to an officer, he replied, “You know you like it in there with all the men.”

Officers snickered at Ms. Diamond throughout the process, she said, calling her a “he-she,” “tranny” and “it.”

“I felt totally voiceless,” Ms. Diamond, who is 37 and now divorced, said recently through tears. “Like I wasn’t even human. Like my safety didn’t even matter.”

When the patrol guide reforms were issued, advocates for transgender people lauded the changes as groundbreaking, if overdue. Officers now were required, among other provisions, to refer to people by their preferred names and gender pronouns, to allow people to be searched by an officer of their requested gender, and to refrain from “discourteous or disrespectful remarks” regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.

But in interviews with more than 20 transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers who have been arrested or had other contact with the police, as well as activists and lawyers representing them, they charge that three years since the regulations were adopted, police officers regularly flout them. Even as transgender visibility surges in the news media and in popular culture, and government agencies develop more sensitive policies, many transgender people continue to report that they are mocked in the most degrading terms by officers, searched roughly and inappropriately and placed in holding cells that do not correspond with their gender identity, all violations of the reforms enacted to address those very indignities.

There are at least a couple of ways to look at the situation. But here is the problem: Congratulations, my transgendered neighbors, you are regarded by NYPD as worthy of personally-tailored bigotry. You’re now equal to every other mistreated class out there.

And, no, that sarcasm doesn’t help. It’s kind of like the old joke about feminists. All they wanted, went the complaint, was everything. And what they got, said the complainers, though we know our sisters haven’t even received this basic respect of indignity, is the right to be treated like excrement just the same as anyone else.

In the first place, NYPD is determined to establish itself as a scourge to humanity.

To the second, though, we might take the moment to wonder if this is like the bit they go through with black people, where they go through a reform process every few years because the situation comes to an impassable conflict, and then go right back to being the sleaze the NYPD has worked so hard to make its distinctive quality.

And let’s throw in a ski-boxer’s third: Dearest friends and neighbors, no, you do not get to write this one off as just another bit of noise. We’re losing people right now because they are afraid to go to the police. This is a disaster.

Look, I’ve watched politics closely for decades, and I have never seen anyone in my quarter as frightened and verging on panic as the veteran hands in transgender advocacy and services in Middle America and the South.

Never.

My sisters are dying. And they’re scared. And, goddamnit, we know this is NYPD we’re talking about here, but come on.

This is what Hell looks like.

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Image note: Shagasyia Diamond, 37, who is transgender, was arrested in 2014 during a domestic dispute in the Bronx. She said she was put in a cell with men and was subjected to slurs by police officers. (Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Remnick, Noah. “Activists Say Police Abuse of Transgender People Persists Despite Reforms”. The New York Times. 7 September 2015.

Mey. “Amber Monroe Becomes the 12th TWOC Murdered in the US This Year, We Must #SayHerName”. AutoStraddle. 8 August 2015.

Something

India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke's death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff's Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

It’s … something.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is launching a new transgender sensitivity training program.

The training comes two months after a Tampa transgender woman’s murder, and law enforcement’s handling of it, captured national attention.

After 25-year-old India Clarke’s body was found in a Tampa park July 21, law enforcement identified her by the name and gender she was born with even though she had identified as female for years. Backlash from across the country followed, surfacing a discussion about how law enforcement handle the identities of transgender people.

(Associated Press)

We can’t have our friends and neighbors back. But, at the very least, we can have this little shard of decency, that we might wish the true selves of those we leave behind some manner of dignity in rest.

And we’ll take it, because that’s all we have left.

Her name was India Clarke. Please say it. Please, say her name.

____________________

Image note: India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke’s death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

Associated Press. “St. Pete Officers to be Trained on Transgender Issues”. WTVJ. 7 September 2015.

Holden, Dominic. “Transgender Woman Of Color Killed In Tampa, Florida”. BuzzFeed. 22 July 2015.

A Note on Legacy

President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

“Watching him now is a useful reminder that there is no such thing as the ‘twilight’ of a presidency. Until the day his successor takes office, Obama will be the leading actor on the biggest and most important stage in the world.”

Eugene Robinson

When we perceive a presidency as dismal, it is easy enough to wonder what could have gone better. Still, though, it is easy enough to wonder if perhaps the historical discussion, and probably not so far off in the future, will pause amid its reflections on one of the more affecting and effective presidencies in American history to wonder what more President Obama could have achieved.

That answer might as well be wishing on stars. But as Eugene Robinson reminds, these premature death notices of a lame duck twilight zombie administration really do remind of the soft bigotry of low expectations. Barack Obama is no George W. Bush, and but for a press accustomed to thoughtless milling and recycling, we might have no cause to remind.

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Image note: President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast on Sept. 7. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Robinson, Eugene. “Obama has plenty of reasons to smile”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

The Difference

VIII. Adjustment.

Michael Gerson, for the Washington Post:

Whatever their intentions, these people are doing great harm to the cause of religious liberty and to the reputation of their faith. Davis’s defiance is the wrong test case for the protection of religious freedom.

The Supreme Court’s far-reaching Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage will have radiating consequences for people who hold traditional moral views on marriage and family. Some challenges will concern religious institutions — colleges, social service providers, aid organizations — that interact in various ways with government. Other controversies will concern the ability of closely held businesses to refrain from providing services.

But there is no serious case to be made for the right of public officials to break laws they don’t agree with, even for religious reasons. This is, in essence, seizing power from our system of laws and courts.

The punch line, of course, is that, “They can’t tell the difference”, but such niceties fail to suit Mr. Gerson’s purpose, and it is worth attending.

Mr. Gerson recalls politics and presentation and process, but one particular requires reminding: What Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement sought was an end to institutional supremacism; what Kim Davis demands is nothing more than institutional supremacism.

In the end, this point should never escape our awareness.

____________________

Gerson, Michael. “Kim Davis is no Rosa Parks”. The Washington Post. 7 September 2015.

Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.

The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:

(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law

(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt

(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law

(4) Gays can just drive to another county

(5) Anti-religious test for office

While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.

(more…)

Recommended Holiday Reading

McPoverty protesters outside Wendy's restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

E.J. Dionne Jr. opens his Labor Day column for the Washington Post with a basic reflection:

Many conservatives and most libertarians argue that every new law or regulation means that government is adding to the sum total of oppression and reducing the freedom of individuals.

This way of looking at things greatly simplifies the political debate. Domestic issues are boiled down to the question of whether someone is “pro-government” or “anti-government.”

Alas for the over-simplifiers, it’s an approach that misreads the nature of the choices that regulators, politicians and citizens regularly face. It ignores that the market system itself could not exist without the rules that government establishes, beginning with statutes protecting private property and also the various measures against the use of force and fraud in business and individual transactions.

More important, it overlooks the ways in which the steps government takes often empower citizens and expand their rights. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of work.

It’s Labor Day, so there is no required reading. Might I, then, strongly encourage Mr. Dionne’s holiday offering?

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Image note: Hey, I’ve been there! ― McPoverty protesters outside Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in Seattle on Thursday, Feb. 20. (Photo: Joshua McNichols/KUOW)

Dionne Jr., E. J. “The right question to ask about government”. The Washington Post. 6 September 2015.