Nel's New Day

April 28, 2011

Transgender Woman Beaten

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 3:18 PM
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What would you do if you saw someone getting beaten up in a restaurant where you were eating? Ignore it? Stare? Or jump in and try to stop it? All those things happened last week when two young women, ages 18 and 14, assaulted a 22-year-old woman. In this case assault means punching her in the nose, ripping her earrings out of the lobes, throwing her on the floor, kicking her in the face, and spitting on her—before dragging her across the floor. They stopped when the bloody 22-year-old went into an epileptic seizure and an older woman intervened. All this because the 22-year-old is a transgender woman.

Meanwhile a McDonald’s employee filmed the assault with the sound of people, some of them other employees, cheering on the assailants. The video was subsequently posted to the Internet, and the employee justified the assault because the beaten woman “was a man dressed like a woman.” A week after the assault, he was fired, but change.org is asking people to sign a petition asking that McDonald’s hold all the employees who witnessed the event and did nothing to be held accountable–something that has not happened yet.

Vicky Thoms, the 55-year-old witness who tried to help the woman beaten at a McDonald’s, was also pushed and punched when she tried to stop the two young women. The only person who tried to help the victim, Thoms is also recovering from a back injury. At a rally last Monday night outside the McDonald’s, she said she was overwhelmed by the positive response from people, that strangers came up to her and hugged her.

The 22-year-old victim said that she had gone into the Rosedale McDonald’s to use the bathroom immediately before the two teen-aged girls attacked her. She called this a hate crime. We agree although the police are still not sure.

The assailants are being kept in jail without bond. The older one had attacked another woman in the same McDonald’s last year. The judge asked her why she was accused of only assault—why not attempted murder.

This assault happened in Rosedale, Maryland, the state in which the Senate failed to vote on a bill that would give housing and employment anti-discrimination protections to transgender people. Although the state’s hate crime law includes crimes against transgender people, a bill to provide more extensive protections disappeared after being passed by the House.

Bigotry is rampant across the country even among those who suffer discrimination. After Richard Raskind transformed himself into Renee Richards, he had to fight to compete in tennis because of the “he/she” controversy. This was 35 years ago. But as recently as four years ago, Richards said that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Last Sunday’s entry included two books about the pain of a transgender teen, one of them I Am J. There are others that explain the torture that transgender people suffer. No one can read these books and look at the transgender experience in the same way again.

Cris Beam’s book Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers (Mariner Books, 2008). In passionate, clear writing, Beam tells of her experiences with four transgendered girls during her volunteer work at a school for gay and transgender students in Los Angeles. She shows, through her experiences with individual girls, the problems that transgenders suffer; i.e., a clerk refusing to change a name on a driver’s license and the need for lying to the police after a rape because of the fear of discrimination.

Brian Katcher’s  Almost Perfect , comes from the perspective of a boy who discovers that Sage, the new girl of his dreams, is a transitioning male.  The novel explores Logan’s evolving emotions from fury and fear that people will think he is gay to dismay when he sees how Sage’s father shuns her because of her decision and his frustration that his love for her cannot overcome the realization that he cannot get past Sage being born a boy. Painfully funny, the narration realistically describes Logan’s roller-coaster feelings as he rises to the top before being plunged into the depths of despair and helplessness. Reading about Sage’s attempting to commit suicide and then trying to decide whether she should return to her biological male appearance despite her knowing that she is a female shows the agony that transgenders endure.

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Jumpstart the World, also tackles the issue of surviving as a transgender from the perspective of a straight person, this time a 16-year-old girl. Her growing knowledge about Frank’s background shows the serious problems of changing genders, especially when one has no money and cannot go to a hospital for a serious illness even because of a serious illness.

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