Mercedes Allen


Filed By Mercedes Allen | April 22, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Angie Zapata, Colorado, hate crimes against LGBT people, transgender, transsexual

It's not really "murder" if the victim is disposable.

That's the theme that keeps resurfacing when trans panic defenses are used to effectively stave off any chance of serious sentencing for the murder of a woman who happens to have a penis or a man who happens to have a vagina. We're supposed to accept that the victim was asking for it, or even maliciously deceiving people in such a way as to deserve the outcome.

In watching comments to the Angie Zapata murder trial (yes, I know she was the victim, but she also appears to be the person on trial), Zoe Brain observes:

It's not enough that the killer go free: the victim's family must pay compensation, and the victim "charged posthumously."

This is a paraphrase of some comments being made at one of many locations where the trial -- said to be the first in North America to test hate crimes law protections of transgender people -- is being reported.

The defense is in full swing, painting the killer, Ray Allen Andrade, as the victim of deception, complete with insistently referring to Angie by her previous male name. After all, to the public and to a jury, it becomes completely understandable that a heterosexual man would explode and kill someone for being in an intimate encounter and then be discovered to be transsexual. Perfectly excusable.

Except that there's more to the story. In the two days before her murder, Andrade reportedly accompanied Angie to a court hearing in which her previous male name was used. She reportedly always disclosed to her dates that she was trans, and the two met on the bisexual part of Mocospace. There was much fanfare made of the breast gels inventoried from the murder scene (to highlight the "deception"), but I can testify that even in the mildest of intimate encounters, it's hard to keep those from being obvious. And then, there is the matter of DNA belonging to Andrade collected from a pink vibrator -- the defense has tried to say that this DNA could come from sweat from a person's hands, but the DNA analyst stated that the amount collected could only come from semen (which they later ruled out), vaginal secretions, or through anal penetration.

But you know, he still must have had no idea, to react like that, right?

Something I have experienced in dating, both before my transition in homosexual encounters and since my transition as a trans female, is how sometimes partners who you don't really know and who are fully aware of what they're doing can sometimes become volatile in an instant. The most likely time for this is right after orgasm, after the head clears and a person settles into a moment of awareness. Those people who aren't so comfortable with the possibility that they might be gay (bi?) or that they suddenly don't consider their partner a "real woman" can do a 180 degree spin on you in the bedroom, and some girls (and guys, although it doesn't happen as often to transmen) experience this in the form of violence. I've been lucky, and only experienced this in the form of the sudden onset of loathing, spite, aloofness and hostility, although part of being lucky has probably had to do with recognizing when there was a danger, and knowing how to carefully negotiate my way out of the room/situation. And having those things certainly doesn't necessarily guarantee a safe outcome.

The ongoing trial may or may not give us a clear picture of what really happened that morning. So far, it looks like the only thing Angie has to tell her story is a pink vibrator. And, well, the truth may not be relevant when the victim is disposable.

Does that last comment sound overly melodramatic or unlikely? Consider this: Shanniel Hyatt was the only person seen on security footage entering and leaving the apartment of Kellie Telesford, he was found in possession of stolen items belonging to her (including her cell phone), and yet in August of last year was completely acquitted, because he successfully argued that since she was a transsexual, Kellie must have killed herself by auto-erotic asphyxiation out of grief, after the robbery of her apartment. In November of every year, we remember victims of transphobic violence and neglect, and those memorials are filled with many such stories of ridiculous or panic defenses and trials of the victim.

Lesson: those living outside the gender binary are simply disposable. It's not a good lesson, but it keeps getting repeated. I pray it doesn't happen to Angie's memory.

Crossposted to DentedBlueMercedes

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Kathy Padilla | April 22, 2009 10:35 AM

"said to be the first in North America to test hate crimes law protections of transgender people"

I believe that the murderers of Gwen Araujo were charged under a hate crimes statute.

Regardless of the hate crimes aspect of the murder - this guy should be convicted on his confession alone. Wasn't he recorded confessing in telephone calls from prison?

You're correct, it's the first case in Colorado.

One of the early news stories in the Angie Zapata was either mistaken, or more likely just simply poorly worded, about that aspect and the incorrect info just kept getting repeated in other articles.

Praying for Zapata's Family and Hoping Andrade Rots and Spends Life with Inmates who SEE who he IS

He ate candy during the breaks.
Waiting for the Jury's conviction

I sit glued praying that Andrade pays with his life. Yes there is no official death penalty in Colorado.

Andrade should have to spend the rest of his earthly days the PREY of the convict justice system. In prison, rapists and pedophiles are made to have sex with by a man with HIV.

That's right, Justice for us. Let that man rot in hell. He an make room in hell for his defense lawyer while he's there.

Kathy Padilla | April 22, 2009 1:45 PM

"Andrade should have to spend the rest of his earthly days the PREY of the convict justice system. In prison, rapists and pedophiles are made to have sex with by a man with HIV.

That's right, Justice for us."

That's not justice; for anybody. People aren't sentenced to being raped or to being infected with disease as part of their punishment.

Given what happens to so many transwomen in prisons, maybe we should be all little more thoughtful about what we want to say we'll support.

Next you are going to tell me You are not aware that what go's on in prison.

Come On.

You have already rendered yourself unreproachable.

Tell me yo do not pay taxes and support the industrial prison complex.

Tell me you atre volunteering at prison to make this reality change.

Then I will beleave you are for real.

In any cace Kathey go find someone elese to preach to. I really do not care what you think.

Kathy Padilla | April 22, 2009 2:49 PM

Well - OK - I'll tell you.

Yes - I did volunteer at Prisons to make a change. I worked with my City's Prisons Commissioner to try and change the incareation standards for transgender inmates. Particularly on the sexual assualt & violence we face.

I'm sorry you don't care to have your statements responded to. Perhaps posting them on blogs isn't the best strategy to achieve that objective?

I'll add My two cents here as well. As someone who has been in prison, and someone who has endured, and lived through what happens there, (and believe me its not pretty), I have to agree with Kathy, people are not senteced to prison with the idea that they are and should be raped, etc. Unfortunately it happens, but its no excuse and nothing I would wish on anyone.

I definately agree that what this man did was wrong, and I'm grateful that he was found guilty and I hope for a very serious penalty, but nobody deserves to be violated by being raped, in prison or out.

What's more shocking is the relative infrequence of anyone even being charged with first-degree murder - with or without enhancement - for the murder of a trans woman, much less being convicted of the top count.

As far as I know the only time its ever happened was in Iowa...

In 1977.

Oddly enough, that was prior to the publication of The Transsexual Empire. A coincidence? I dunnow. I'm sure the hearts of all of the members of all of the juries since have been pure.

We're seen as disposable because we're seen as defective and consequently non-human. The depersonalized pronoun "it" gets used, and "it" (in the English language) means an object, not a person. What moral issues could be involved in killing a thing?

This is not an unusual way for an oppressor to see his or her object of oppression. We should not be surprised or shocked by such a viewpoint. But we must not accept it.

I was just popping over here to leave a comment on the verdict. You beat me to it.

Justice is served. Thank God.

Personally: I'm white, female, heterosexual.

But this business of basing justice/punishment on the victim's proclivities/characteristics is really disturbing.

I've noticed it in crimes involving various non-standard people.

Crap, should I be determined less human because I'm atheist or divorced or have a cat?