No words. Only rage for the killers, grief for Tiffany, and compassion for all who loved her.
Tag Archives: hate crimes
How dare you.
The transgender community is hurting really badly right now. Since the beginning of this year, five trans women of color have been killed– Deoni Jones, Coko Williams, Paige Clay, Brandy Martell, and Lorena Escalera– three of them (Coko, Paige and Brandy) in April alone.
Another trans woman of color, CeCe MacDonald, is expected to spend 41 months in a man’s prison for defending herself from becoming the victim of a similar hate crime.
Transgender artist Mark Aguhar also committed suicide this year. Her loss was crushing to many, especially to young trans people who live in isolated areas and depend on the internet for a sense of community. She is far from being the only one. 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide, and this number does not take into account those who have completed suicide successfully. No wonder, given that we constantly hear about people like us being murdered. It leads to a certain sense of hopelessness.
Trans people, especially trans people of color, are dying constantly, by murder or by suicide. Trans people who dare fight back, like Cece MacDonald, are punished for surviving. The rest of us live in fear, and are exhausted by grief.
Your disgraceful article about Lorena Escalera, a talented young model and performer, was utterly devoid of compassion, respect, or of awareness of its context. It was smug, sneaky, and mean. It started out referring to Lorena as the beautiful woman she was, albeit using a series of misogynistic tropes and innuendos about her character, then made the “shocking” revelation that she was transgender mid-stream, and ended by referring to her as “the dead man.”
Trans people are often accused of being “deceivers” for not broadcasting our gender history to the world (no wonder that we are hesitant to do so, given the murderous way that non-transgender people sometimes react when we come out!). I felt that your article was in fact deceptive. It started out somewhat innocently, and ended up downright insulting. In retrospect, I suppose the comments on Lorena’s appearance (since when is it appropriate to refer to a dead woman as ‘curvaceous?’) should have tipped me off to its slimy intentions,
It’s bad enough that our trans siblings are dying left and right, without the media spitting on their dead bodies and trying to take their hard-won genders away.
The fact that so many of you non-transgender people think that it is OK to mock the dead shows that you lack the smallest shred of human decency.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
Write one yourself and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want them to actually publish it keep it shorter than mine– 150 words max. Here’s their bullshit guidelines.
This map shows the data for trans murders in countries worldwide over the last four years, from January 1st, 2008, to December 31st, 2011. From TransRespect vs Transphobia:
The update shows an exponential increase in reported killings of trans people over the last four years. In 2008, 141 cases were reported, in 2009 213 cases, in 2010 214 cases, and in 2011 a shocking number of 248. These are mainly the reported cases that could be found through Internet research and cooperation with trans organizations and activists. In most countries, data on murdered trans people are not systematically produced and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.
The reasons for this increase might be manifold. Every year, TGEU’s TVT research team has improved its monitoring methods, started new collaborations with organizations that contributed their data, and received information from activists from many parts of the world. Also, the increase in the visibility of trans people and of trans issues in public discourse may have led to a better reporting of cases. However, the data also show also that there is no decrease, that the shocking amount of violence against trans people still poses a major problem and threat to trans people in many countries. The again alarming figures demonstrate once more that there is an urgent need to react to the violence against trans people and to seek mechanisms to protect trans people. Some international trans activists even started to introduce the term ‘transcide’ to reflect the continuously elevated level of deadly violence against trans people on a global scale.
Click the image to view at higher resolution.
“Officials have identified a young transsexual woman who died in a fire that broke out early Saturday in Bushwick.
The FDNY received a call around 4 a.m. reporting flames pouring out of an apartment building at 47 Furman Ave.
After firefighters extinguished the blaze at around 4:15 a.m., they discovered 25-year-old Lorena Escalera, 25, unconscious in apartment #3. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
Escalera, a dancer who goes by the stage name “Lorena Xtravaganza,” performed at clubs such as Splash, Peligro and El Morocco.
Escalera’s Facebook fan page has photos of her performing in glittering, sexy outfits including an homage to J. Lo, which included a sparkly, sheer outfit mirroring the cat suit Lopez wore on New Year’s Eve.
Escalera described herself as an honest and humble person living in Brooklyn, but born and raised in Puerto Rico.
According to reports, she also worked as an escort, who advertised her services online.
Fire officials told Metro that the cause of the fatal blaze is still under investigation, but the New York Times reported that the fire has been deemed suspicious. Escalera was last seen bringing two unidentified men into the apartment.”
I am crying. My heart goes out to all who loved Lorena.
I am so sick of posting these things. It feels like this is all I ever hear about now.
ETA: I found this video starring Lorena, who was a talented performer and model. There are lots of photos and footage of Lorena on the internet. When I look at them it’s hard to believe this vibrant young woman is no longer alive.
Note: I want to apologize for my prior misspellings of Brandy’s name. I was seeing both the I and Y spelling from multiple sources. I will go back and correct my previous posts ASAP.
Brandy Martell was shot and killed in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning. Photo by Tiffany Woods.
Brandy Martell, 37, a Hayward resident, was killed in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning. Martell, who identified as transsexual, was in her car at the corner of Franklin and 13th Streets in Oakland’s city center when she was shot repeatedly through the window and side door. Hers was one of three murders in the city that night.
While some news outlets are reporting that the murder was the result of a botched robbery, Martell’s friends believe she may have been the victim of a hate crime. Another transgender woman and friend of Martell’s—who wants to keep her identity private—was in the back seat of the car. According to this witness, she, Martell and two other transgender women had been socializing in the parked vehicle for several hours. Around 3 am, two men approached the car and chatted with the women briefly, the witness said. Martell and the other women told the men they were transgendered, and after a seemingly cordial conversation, the men walked off, said the witness.
Two hours later, the men reappeared, and one of them stuck the barrel of an automatic weapon into the crack of Martell’s window, according to the witness. According to her, the man shot Martell in the side, and the other women fled as Martell tried to drive away. Martell made it only as far as the intersection before her wounds stopped her. The gunman fired multiple shots into the car, two of which struck Martell, the witness said. The shooter and the other man got away on foot. The other women in the car had been taken away by the police to give their witness statements by the time the ambulance arrived, the witness said.
The Oakland Police Department did not return phone calls regarding this case, and has not released any public statements or press releases.
There will be a public funeral and homecoming services for Brandy Martell Wednesday, May 9 at 11 a.m. at C.P. Bannon Mortuary, 6800 International Boulevard in Oakland. She was a transgender woman murdered during a hate crime downtown. Please come and show support for Brandy and all trans people. There is a vigil on 13th and Franklin, please bring flowers, candles and whatever else you might want to leave to keep her memory alive.
from Dean Spade:
CeCe just took a plea deal—2nd degree manslaughter with a recommended 41 month sentence (actual sentencing hearing will be in a month). Horrifying to watch her forced to recount the events of her attack on the stand, to watch the judge speak to her condescendingly about how pulling scissors out of her purse as her attacker chased her down the street unlawfully endangered her attacker. This system is so disgusting. Still, I am inspired by her support team here in MN and people all over sending love.
I don’t have words right now. I just wanted to signal boost this and let you all know.
(no image available)
Meanwhile, CeCe McDonald is on trial for the death of a man who viciously attacked her, a man who had a fucking swastika tattooed on his chest. She is facing two counts of second degree murder for what would be called self-defense by any reasonable person, if she even is the one who stabbed that Neo Nazi, which has by no means been proven.
So black trans women are being killed all over the country, but if one is even suspected of fighting back, that’s big trouble.
Here’s the really sick thing. I know, we all know, that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to anti trans violence. Most of us wouldn’t even consider involving the police while we still have breath in our bodies, and for good reason. After all, CeCe asked the cops for help, and they fucking arrested her. And that’s not all:
CeCe was briefly taken to the hospital where she received 11 stitches in her cheek. Then, while she was still suffering both physically and mentally from this traumatic incident, she was left alone in a room for three hours and then interrogated, after which she was placed into solitary confinement. She spent the next several months in jail and had to wait almost two months between her initial doctors’ visit and a much-needed follow-up appointment. During that time, her cheek swelled into an extremely painful, golfball-sized lump, making eating difficult and producing headaches and pressure on her left eye and ear. Ironically, the only gesture towards CeCe’s well-being that authorities made during her incarceration was to put her in solitary confinement “for her own protection” on two separate occasions, despite her stated desire to be housed alongside other prisoners.
As for Brandi Martell, she was surrounded by cops as she died. They did absolutely nothing.
So, very few trans people want to report their experiences of violence to the police, fucking understandably. What this means in practical terms is that we only hear about trans violence from the media when someone actually dies. Sometimes maybe not even then. Who knows whether there are other trans women who have been murdered in April who the media missed covering completely. (They were light enough on the stories of Coko, Paige and Brandi.)
It is vitally important that we mourn our dead. If we do not, we allow even more of our humanity to be taken away from us by the murderous forces of oppression. While we mourn those who were murdered, we must also mourn those whose lives were lost to suicide under the pressure of living in a viciously transphobic, misogynistic, racist society. Can we have a moment of silence for Mark Aguhar, who took her own life so recently?
And while we mourn, let’s also listen to the stories of those trans people who have survived brutal attacks and attempts on their lives. We can’t wait for a trans sibling to make the TDoR list in order to give them our compassion and love. Let’s keep trans friends and family close to us as this bloody April ends. Let’s love each other before it’s too late.
REPOST: Trans Woman Murdered in Oakland, Emergency Demo/Vigil Tonight at 8pm, 13th and Franklin PLEASE REPOST/SIGNAL BOOST
“Brandi, a transwoman, was murdered last night, shot at 12th and Franklin in Downtown Oakland after an altercation with a man who became enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans. An amazing #oo comrade tried to keep her alive with training learned from the People’s Community Medics, but the cops walked away and the ambulance came too late”
Everyone please spread this as widely as possible and please show out tonight to stand up against transphobic violence!
No news stories yet on the situation but will try and keep this updated with info
Update @ 6:33: Mercury News has only this to say:
“The third death occurred at 5:45 a.m., when a person was shot to death at the corner of 13th and Franklin streets, a block from the Burger King where the Saturday incident occurred.
Police responding to reports of shots fired saw the person lying in the roadway, outside another restaurant that apparently had some of its windows shattered by gunfire. The shooting victim, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Yesterday afternoon, Char was crossing a street in the Tenderloin. A man with a group of about four of his buddies pulled out a gun, pointed it at my lover, and said “Let’s kill this tranny.”
Char ran. They were not pursued. No shots were fired. They are alive and OK.
This is the reason why when Char is half an hour late getting home I start to expect the worst. It’s certainly not the first time shit like this has happened. It’s just a fact of Char’s life, and therefore, now, of mine.
I have so much love for Char, and so much wonder for the miracle of their survival. Diabetic, a recovering alcoholic drug addict, the survivor of transphobic attempted murder— the fact that they are still breathing is unlikely, wondrous, and precious. They must have nine lives or more. I respect them so much for weathering what they’ve been through, and for not letting it break them.
Yesterday, I watched with disbelief as they just picked themselves up and moved on. They even laughed about it. When I heard that sweet, evil cackle of theirs I couldn’t believe that anybody would want them dead. Their smile, their wise eyes, their warmth and kindness and sense of irony and unbelievable strength are astounding. That anybody could see their whole life and everything that they are as just trash, as just something to destroy for shits and giggles, stuns and infuriates me.
I don’t know if I want to live in a world this horrible, where people want somebody like Char dead just for daring to live. But I am gonna live because the least I can do is be as audacious as Char and keep surviving. No fucking way am I gonna leave them alone now.
I just wish we could get away to somewhere far away, some island or some cabin in the mountains, but as an insulin dependent diabetic Char really can’t go off the grid. I just wish there were some place of refuge. But we’re already in San Francisco, the place where people like us run away to. I guess the only thing to do, really, is to stay and fight. Try to make it better. Our backs are to the wall. Our only hope is in surrounding ourselves with more strong, resilient trans people, so that maybe all of us can look out for each other, and together, grasp at the little moments of safety and happiness, and forget all the indignities and all the danger, just for a little while.