Bil Browning

Trans hate crime is "justifiable"?

Filed By Bil Browning | July 06, 2007 12:04 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Florida, hate crimes against LGBT people, legal system, transgender, violence

This is one of those cases that'll just make you seethe with anger. A trans woman is horribly beaten in Palm Springs, Florida and the judge decides it wasn't a hate crime, but instead commented, "In many ways it appears from the testimony that was presented here that there are two victims in the case."

Two victims?!? Remind me again who had the hell beat out of them? Let's look at the facts of this case...

A teenager picks up a transwoman outside of a bar. They go to the beach and start to have sex.

Just as they were about to have sex, he says, he saw she was actually a pre-operative transsexual. She already had breast implants, but her other surgery is not scheduled until later this year.

She denies any sexual activity with the teen and has a different story. But a witness saw what happened next: The teen shouted for help, dragged her through the sand, beat her head against the lifeguard stand and punched out her front teeth.
The witness said he suggested that the boy go on home and not tell anyone. But about half an hour later, the kid returned, he said, dragging what looked to be a topless man down the beach by the hand.

He screamed that he was going to kill her and slammed the person's head against the lifeguard stand, the witness said.

The witness jumped off the tower and headed for the boardwalk. The kid came back again, he said, saying he thought he had killed someone and was going to jail. Palm Beach police pulled up right then, the witness said.

They found the victim covered in blood.

Nice of the witness to stop the beating, eh? He's a real stand-up guy too apparently... "Just go home and don't tell anyone." Bah. That part really pisses me off almost as much as the verdict!

But what happened when the case went to trial? The judge decided that this wasn't a hate crime after all.

"The teen did not seem to beat the victim because of sexual orientation, but because of his anger and desire for retribution.

"Your anger, from your perspective and from many other people's perspective, may be justifiable anger. But the act that you committed in that anger cannot be justified under our existing system of laws.
"In many ways it appears from the testimony that was presented here that there are two victims in the case."

So let's parse the judge's words here for a second. Isn't he saying, "I can see why you beat the hell out of that tranny, but with the laws we have on the books I have to punish you for it." What complete and utter bullshit. And that whole two victims part? That's what sets me over the edge.

Violence is never the solution to any problem. Would there have "two victims" if the teen had simply said, "Oh. I'm not into that. Sorry. Gotta go home now." and left? Would the transgender woman have been "justified" in shooting the punk vigilante style afterwards while the teen was on house arrest? After all, I'm sure she was angry and wanted some retribution...

So what do you think? Is this just a case of a judge with foot-in-the-mouth disease or someone that should be dismissed from the bench immediately?

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We live in a world where most people don't know what transgender means, let alone respect transgender rights. It doesn't surprise me that the judge in this case made this verdict. And it doesn't surprise me that the witness was far from a Good Samaritan. That's what is so sad about the whole situation. If the victim in this case did decide to go out for a little vigilante justice, I'd say, "right on sister!"

Jen Jorczak | July 7, 2007 12:55 PM

I vote for "dismissed from the bench immediately."

Thank you for tackling this important issue. I have linked to your article here:

Me, too, "dismissal from the bench immediately."

Unfortunately, were we to do this to all judges who feel the way this one does, the courtrooms across America (and probably the globe) would be without judges.

What a sad, tragic and horribly common story.

I am horrified and mortified from so many perspectives. As an attorney, I find it appalling that a member of the bench is so far out of touch with the events and life that he could say such a thing. Is he protecting his own identity? What an absolutely uncalled for remark and to what purpose? To soothe the victim's wounds or step in the direction of repairing the harm? No. To exacerbate the the entire event and send a message to others that certain violence is OK, especially if you don't get caught.

Unlike Serena above, I wouldn't praise the actions of the woman if she sought the bastard out for a little retribution; I think all violence is bad. I would, however, understand it.

I, too, vote for removal.

As a trans-woman, I am horrified of course on a whole different level. What is it about us that engenders this reaction? Why can't people just accept people. I like your suggestion: "No, thanks, I'm not into that..." We train our boys to fear homosexuality nearly above anything else. When they find they've been attracted to a trans-woman they question themselves. Asshats.

Finally, as a former long-time resident of Florida, I'm horrified again that Florida continues to lead the nation in ignorance and hatefulness.

Susan Robins | July 8, 2007 4:50 PM

I would like to see the original article instead of a story with no attributions.
The moral of the story is Pre-Ops should only have sex with people who know them.

Have a nice day.

Susan A. Robins

Oh, Susan, I *so* very much disagree with you. The moral of the story is people hate and they act out on it and it's tolerated to the point that a judge in our system can even write the words that there are two victims.

You may be correct that pre-ops should only have sex with people that know them, I don't know. But, to call that the moral of the story is a "blame the victim" mentality that I simply cannot accept. She didn't beat herself. This man who is *so* afraid of homosexuality that he couldn't handle the fact that the woman is was with had a penis is to blame. And, there's simply NO question of that in my mind.

Susan Robins | July 9, 2007 12:11 PM

I have had this debate many times before.
When a man sees someone who presents as a woman that is what he expects to find under the covers.
The Gwen Araujo story is proof enough for that.

If you are running a table saw and you take the guard off and slice off your hand while you are cutting wood, are you going to blame the Saw? I think not your going to blame the victim for not providing for their own safety.

I still want to see the original story.
So far nobody has produced it.

Take care,
Susan A Robins.

This judge should be FIRED immediately.

I am a post-op transsexual woman and unfortunately, there are many people out there who think like the assailant and the judge and the witness.

Remember how some people used to view some women who got raped: "she deserved to be raped because she was wearing a short skirt". HOW DISGUSTING!

NO woman or transsexual EVER deserves to have physical violence wrought upon them (except maybe if they committed physical violence against an innocent first).

I abhor violence, but it is ALL around. How sad.

hugs, michelle

Susan Robins | July 9, 2007 1:30 PM

I am also a post transition female
I agree with you about the violence but we haven't even established this story to be real or not.

I don't a URL to the original story.
Where I found this story happens to be a place good for spreading fabricated articles.
Unfortunately you can own a yahoo group and post complete crap and not have to answer for it.

As a group;
If we are to be taken seriously, we must be willing to back up what we say with Facts not fiction.

Take care,
Susan Robins

Above is one link; I've seen others, but I simply don't want to spend the time trying to assuage your skepticism. I'm a trained skeptic (lawyer) but I accept this as real only because I've seen it reported more than once and because my experience with people suggests to me it's true (for example I was here in Detroit where a man had sex with a pre-op TS (she was admittedly working the streets to live; she didn't know the guy, but she also had no real choice in having sex with him), then later went out got a gun and came back and shot her in the head. Was she to blame? In your world, probably yes).

But, even if this story weren't true, my earlier comments stand. The moral of this story is that we still have a long way to go where society doesn't implicitly (or explicitly, as arguably done in this case) condone violence as a way to react to someone's sex, gender, or sexual orientation. If that young man (and probably the judge) hadn't been trained by society to fear/hate homosexuality I don't think the result would have been so horrific.

And, your analogy fails for the simple reason that the young man who beat this woman is a living breathing sentient being capable of rational thought and making choices. The saw in your example is not.

OK, just for you, Susan -- here's another link.

I'm thinking it's a true story. But, you may be right -- it might just be fiction, designed to outrage us stupid trans folk.

Susan Robins | July 10, 2007 10:19 AM

Thank you, Denise for posting those links.

The only weapon transfolk have in the fight for there rights is the truth,
All it takes is one lie and the ground gained is lost.

It wouldn't be the first time a story was fabricated to enrage transfolk. The list first found about this story is famous for planting such stories.

As to rather the woman in Detroit or the woman we are discussing here had a choice. There is always a choice. Most sex workers have little or no regard for the law they see prostitution as fast and easy money until they have been beaten a few times. Many not all won't accept legitimate jobs because they have no desire to start at the bottom and work their way up to a wage comparable to what they were making before.

I am always unhappy at the loss of life and equally unhappy when I hear about someone's pain and suffering, still we make the choices that place us on the path. We must be willing to take responsibility for those choices.

Take care,
Susan Robins

Thanks for the links, Denise. As we've re-launched, I didn't have time to make it back to the comments to help with Susan's request. (I thought the Transadvocate story linked to the Palm Beach newspaper.)

The story is true - and it's outrageous. I could care less if the young man was surprised, Susan. I've brought home a few guys that looked good with their clothes on, but then when they got them off.... *shudders* Should I have punched out their front teeth and beaten their head against something? Or maybe stuck with what I DID do - say something like, "You know, I'm just not feeling it anymore. Let me walk you out."

Violence is NEVER the answer.

Susan Robins | July 10, 2007 12:03 PM

You should read some of the comments in the Gay City link.

This is the same thing that got Gwen Araujo killed.
A straight man is entitled to have straight sex.

True she shouldn't have been beaten
She is equally in the wrong for deception.
This gives all of us a bad name.

So many transfolk are so willing to discount the feelings of their one-time sex partners.
Many see those partners as disposable, and a source for ether a quick thrill or money.
I don't see how people can live like that and have a clear conscience, which is another issue.

Take care,
Susan Robins

Susan, you and I are just on different wavelengths. You see the victim as to blame and I never will. You see sex workers with a choice and I've known too many who had no choice to agree with your logic.

"She is equally wrong..."

I will never be able to understand your logic in this and I'm so very sorry that we have people in our community who, instead of outrage -- at the perp and at the judge who implicitly condoned it -- turn to blame the victim. However, I'll not waste anymore bandwidth trying to show you the error of your ways.

I'm very happy that you're in such a good position in your life to be able to have these judgements.

Good luck to you.

Susan Robins | July 13, 2007 12:17 PM

It all boils down to a very simple fact.
Nobody forced her to consent to sex.
If a person cannot control their impulses they need professional help for impulse control.

Both were in the wrong, it is that simple.

We will have to agree to disagree.

Take care,
Susan Robins

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] This comment has been deleted for violating the Terms of Service. We don't disparage each other, call names or question anyone's sexuality or gender identity. Play nice.

I think these "straight men" aren't naive enough to assume they are going after "the real thing". Not many of us are fortunate enough to blend in well with other females. Perhaps this girl was different from the majority of us and passed with the best of the "supermodel-type" women, but it still doesn't give the man the right to beat the hell out of her even if he finds something between her legs.

By the way, Gwen Araujo didn't deserve what she got. I think she had it worse than a lot of us are lead to believe. It's like she's become an urban legend and morphed into a totally presentable female. I tend to believe that the guys who "gave it to her" knew what they were doing or else they were among the most stupid men on the face of the earth. "The straight men" in this case weren't necessarily looking to have "straight sex".

Gwen was looking to fit in, I am sure of it. She wasn't trying to dupe the men but wanted to feel like a real girl. I don't think she was trying to discount the boys' feelings and it didn't call for them to bash her over the head with a frying pan.

I've had sex with men before my operation. A couple were unaware of my "extra parts". I was fortunate that I didn't become like Gwen Araujo. I wasn't trying to trick the men but I'm sure in the heck convinced they would have had no right to rob my life from me or to cause me harm that would never go away.