It Is Who We Are

The Advocate, is an American magazine that keeps their viewers updated on the LGTBQIH community. Just recently they released an article on the seventh trans women death of 2015. Six of the homicides were women of color (Kellaway, February 20, 2015). Mitch Kellaway reports in his article: “this year’s [had a] particularly deadly start — with the U.S. averaging one trans woman reported murdered each week of 2015” (February 20, 2015). This is a stat that I was completely unaware of, and that had not crossed my mind as necessarily being a deliberate issue. How much more violence towards transgender exists that myself of my peers may not know about? It is sad to think that one must assimilate into the social divisions of a culture to conform for the purpose of normalcy and safety. This statistic makes that need to assimilate seem even more necessary for transgendered individuals, as their lives could be gravely endangered from doing otherwise.

Cornel West says, “[j]ustice is what love looks like in public” (Cox, Dec 7, 2014). The public must be informed, and aware of what is going on around them concerning the mistreatment of transgendered men and women. Only since I started this course have I begun to appreciate the struggles of differently gendered individuals, and have been able both acquire a knowledge of said struggles, and relay to others the importance of empathizing with their point of view and lifestyle, even if we cannot relate. I believe that trans women need positive exposure to society, through the media for example, to help educate those consuming their material that transgendered issues are important and deserving of attention. Laverne Cox “Laverne is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show.” (lavernecox.com, 2014), but she also speaks out and writes critically about trans violence issues (lavernecox.com, 2014). Through the deliverance of her speeches, and her written work, her aim seems to provide awareness, and develop the pertinence of her cause. Her articles have been posted in The Advocate, and other popular magazines supporting the LGTBQIH Community. I believe that her role in society is very important because she has exposure through the media and attention as a rising celebrity figure that could help her gain traction as an advocate for transgender rights. Not only that, but she has been so successful as a trans women that she can help to motivate, share and inspire other women with the same journey.

Cox’s video focuses on the violence that is inflicted upon trans women in the streets of different cities, as well as the resulting homicides that are likely due to their gender transformation (Cox, Dec. 7, 2014). She indicates in her speech that “54% of all LGBTQ homicides were trans women” (Cox, Dec. 7, 2014). A report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that “67% of homicide victims were transgender women of colour (2013).” Why is it that trans women suffer the most? Why are the majority of these women also non-caucasian? Why are we seeing transphobic reactions?

If a man was to change his gender, there are intersecting reasons as to why cis men may take offense to it. We see hypermasculinity commonly start at a young age in males, and is encouraged through society until a later ages. We talk about the media in class, and we’ve analyzed different advertisements breaking down the roles the advertisers have assigned genders through the pictures and phrases used. This only encourages masculinity in gender stereotyping. Masculinity could also encourage bullying. Bullying is an issue in schools, and the studies show that more than half the bullies who are reported are boys (STOPABULLLY, 2011-2012). This bullying of childhood seems to embed itself in how some men behave, because the way that grown men are acting towards these women is a much more serious version of bulling. I believe that they probably see the change of a male gendered person to a female as a type of weakness because it defies their sex. However, the violence could also be sparked from embarrassment. Cox talks about Islan Nettle, who was walking down the street with her friend, “and she was catcalled by a few guys. They realized that she was trans, and then they beat her to death” (Cox, Dec. 7, 2014). The fact that they were attracted to a trans goes against this stereotype they’re supposed to fulfill – with the women you’d see in cologne commercials, for example—the women of sexual desire and lusting. The fact that a “manly” male could be attracted to a woman who was once male too, could create a lot of embarrassment on the part of the attacker, which could in turn lead to his “need” to cover his tracks or hide his mistake.

I think it is important that we recognize the beautiful souls that have been killed for being different from society’s expectations, but honest to themselves: Bri Gollec, Yazmin Vash Payne, Ty Underwood, Penny Proud, Taja Dejesus, Lamia Beard, Kristina Gomez Reinwald (Kellaway, Feb. 20, 2015). Through the speeches of Laverne, and many others, I hope that people can accept trans for who they are, and the difficult, life-changing journey that they’ve been through.

References:

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About It).” Everyday Feminism. N.p., 07 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

STOP A BULLY – Canada Program Anti-Bullying Statistics.” – STOP A BULLY. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

Kellaway, Mitch. “Miami: Seventh Trans Woman Murdered in U.S. in 2015.” Advocate.com. 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox | Bio.” Lavernecox.com. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

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4 Comments

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  1. Your blog did a good job relating the important idea’s of the articles you were quoting, allowing me to have a good grasp of the issues. I thought is was quite interesting to see how Laverne Cox is using the success that she found in “Orange Is The New Black” to try and cause a positive effect for the Transgendered community, by almost becoming the head of the movement. I also found it interesting that you brought up the idea of Hypersexuality and how you believe it to be the cause of violence toward transgendered people.

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  2. I thought that the title of your blog, “It Is Who We Are“ does a good job of foreshadowing the topics you mentioned of how we are all brought up in certain ways. You talked about how men are not necessarily inherently violent; however, they may learn aggression as children through bullying and carry that with them into adulthood. The idea of hypermasculinity is interesting when related to some men`s reactions to trans women because it extends the social constructions of masculinity to an uncomfortable level.

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  3. Your analysis on Laverne Cox’s advocacy speech was very interesting to read. Unlike Cox you do not place the blame of violence towards trans women on the history of emasculation towards black men, however chose to place it on the emasculation of any man who does not conform to the hyper-masculine expectations in society. You chose to look at the issue from a much larger perspective, discussing not just race but gender and sexuality as well.

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  4. From this blog I gathered that the idea of transgendered women is virtually polar opposite to the hyper-masculinity young boys grow up with in our society, but I see that taking home a transgendered woman could be confusing and even embarrassing to one of these cis-gendered, straight men. Yet, I have an older brother who grew up in said society, and the very idea of him lashing out violently to one of these women makes me sick. I think that Posh Spice did a terrific job of explaining where this perceived hatred cis-gendered, straight men have towards these transgendered women as it is not an idea I often dissect for myself. Laverne Cox is a figurehead of the transgendered communities movement and I think that women like her deserve a more wide spread voice in the media. In “Orange Is The New Black” mainly every character has some form of love interest, yet Cox does not receive one. I think that the writers should attempt to incorporate a relationship for her in an attempt to solidify the normality of transgendered women.

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