Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bust A Cap In 'Em?

On one of my days off a few months ago, a friend and I were having a long discussion about the alarming rise in murders of Black transwomen. After I relayed the particulars of a few cases, the person looked at me and said, "Looks like one of y'all needs to bust a cap in one of them to send a message to leave y'all alone".

I recalled and pondered this conversation in the wake of Leeneshia Edwards lying in a Memphis hospital bed suffering from three gunshot wounds.

I've never been a big fan of guns even though I co-owned and shot with my brother under supervision a BB gun. My dad owned a handgun, and both of my late grandfathers possessed shotguns. I'm not a fan of the NRA or their fetishistic defense of the Second Amendment because I believe in reasonable gun control laws and being a big city kid, I've seen the result too many times of what unfettered handgun ownership has done to our neighborhoods.

But after 31 murders last year including one of my friends, I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't be echoing the Pink Pistols slogan of 'armed gays don't get bashed'

I wonder what would happen and how it would affect the current 'hunt the Black trannies' mood if one of our would be assailants found themselves on the wrong end of a gun with caps busted in them.

Let's suppose for example that Leeneshia had been packing a pistol in her purse, was in a position when she exited the coffee shop to see her assailant draw his gun first but was not only quicker on the draw but fatally shot his ass.

What would be the reaction of the 'shoot the Black queers' crowd then?

They'd probably back the frack off if they knew going in that their potential bashing targets were possibly packing heat. But that temporary drop from the surprise of one of their ranks getting killed would probably spur a new orgy of killing, and we'd be right back to square one.

We all know how having one handgun for every American has failed to deter crime, drop our murder rates, or prevent sexual assaults and other crimes, so to me, the solution to our problem isn't a knee jerk rush to gun ownership, but has to be a multilayered one.

We need the ENDA and hate crimes laws in place to send the message tranny hunting season is permanently closed. Law enforcement must not only arrest and prosecute those who wish to harm us, but purge their ranks of rogue officers whose idea of protect and serve the citizens doesn't include transgender people.

Now, if some transwomen wish to arm themselves or take self-defense courses, feel free to do that as well. Just make certain that you take gun safety training classes and undergo regular firearms training.

But I'd much rather see a resolution to the problem of anti-transgender violence that doesn't involve busting caps in people.


True Blue Texan said...

Hate crimes against transgendered people are an abomination. My daughter's college roommate is transgendered and his mother is so focused on this issue that she can't see beyond the possible harm to her child to accept who he is.

It's a reality of our times that LGBT folks are targeted for discrimination and violence. It's far past time that we enacted hate crimes legislation to protect all members of our society no matter their race, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sharing your story is one way to let others see you and those like you as simply human. Keep up the good work.

Sin Nombre said...

If the ones committing the crimes are cops, there's not a thing that can be done about it except to protest after the fact, go public, and hope that there's a hidden camera and that someone will do the right thing and leak it to the media.

Other than that, I am all for gun ownership. My only worry is that with some locales' laws about carrying guns while committing a crime, the women who need them the most will just catch another charge or having existing charges escalated.

Monica Roberts said...

Or those of us just lawfully minding our own business will be forced to do things in exchange for getting gun possession charges dropped.

Monica Roberts said...

TB Texan,
You know how cruel some peeps in our home state can be. You may wish to impress upon the mother of the transchild that she definitely needs to be focused on teaching her child safety tips relevant to the new gender identity.t

I fought along with others to keep up in the James Byrd Hate Crimes law passed in 2001 in Texas. The gay and lesbian lobby led by Diane Hardy-Garcia fought harder to strip transpeople out.

Sometimes in the light of people in the GL community like Hardy-Garcia who were SUPPOSED to be our allies, you wonder how effective that really is.

Go Go Jo Jo said...

See now the past two posts are why you should win for Best LGBT blog.

Anyway, I feel conflicted many days in similar ways. I was always a very sunny hippie type of child (as a response to a very "eratic" childhood) and then I started reading the news and history text books (not the ones from the classroom though.) I have become increasingly militant (and I like the term) as I have grown older. However, I think we (black and brown people, lgbt folks, women) have to figure out how to have an intelligent militancy that is sustainable and fluid enough to allow for individualism (also without the misogyny, racism, and homophobia often associated with militancy.) I have yet to figure out what that looks like.

As for arming ourselves...I kind of lean towards Malcolm on this point...freedom and safety by any means necessary.

Mélanie said...

I've heard studies have found accessible right to carry concealed firearms permits reduce the number of crimes against people who are perceived to be easy, vulnerable targets - women, sexual minorities. (The perpetrators pick on people weaker than them, if there is a possibility they're armed they won't risk getting into a fight they can't easily win even if they themselves are armed).

Monica Roberts said...

Jo Jo,
Funny you mentioned Malcolm. I almost quoted him and Huey in this post

I'm sure there are studies that prove the deterrence factor. But at the same time I'm tempered my by my experiences growing up in Houston.

I lived not far from a fire station that every Friday night sent the ambulance screaming across Cullen Blvd traffic and past my bedroom window enroute to clean up the latest shooting at South Park Village or seeing the local news leading every night with another shooting death.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Monica,

This is very interesting. I am all for people protecting themselves. I in fact in the last few months have been entertaining the idea of owning a gun again. I owned one when I lived in the south and I must admit it made me feel safer.

As I'm not Transgender I can't fully understand how vulnerable a Transperson might feel in the world. But I think that as a woman I can clearly understand the need for self-defense.

The only problem I see is that many of the stories about Transpeople being attacked was at the hands of law enforcement. Will a hand gun protect one from the police or make a bad situation worse? That's a difficult question to answer.

I think in the long run something must be done about bigotry toward Transpeople and other sexual/ gender minorities. I however am not sure how this would occur since no one in government seems brave enough to tackle the issue and the (Black) church seems to be adding fuel to the fire rather than offering solutions.

Polar said...

I might well have been the one you were having the discussion with, originally.

That stated, if I were living in Memphis, given the spate of T killings there, I probably would obtain a conceiled carry permit, obtain a policewoman's purse and a high-quality handgun (not a cheap Chinese 'Saturday night special") and brush up on my shooting skills. In fact, if one chooses to carry a weapon, one must only do it legally, fully prepared to prove said legality to any officer who might require same, and only do so after being trained in both safety and accuracy.

If a person is not willing to work to achieve proficiency with a firearm, and is not willing to do so legally, then they should not purchase a firearm. That simple.

I think that, if a person is planning to transition in this day and age, that they should take self-defense training. Even if you live in an area where hate crimes laws are in effect, they will not bring you back from death or a vegetative state. Hormones reduce the physical strength of transwomen, and they need to learn how to use what they do possess to defend themselves in case of attack. There are other weapons that can be carried (chemicals, blades, etc), but, once again, you must take the time to learn to use them, so it is natural and fast when necessary.

I'll conclude by stating that I support hate crimes laws - but I want to see teeth in them. In particular, if a person is indicted for a crime and a hate crimes endorsement is placed on it, if convicted, the crime should automatically be sentenced as a first-degree crime without the jury having an option to drop the degree. I feel strongly that it is high time that those who kill transpeople simply because they are a transperson, face life in prison without parole or death. If a couple of high-profile t-murderers are put to death or sentenced to life without parole, it will send a strong message. And, if the fundies don't agree with this move, they are murderers themselves - and they are.

Lady J said...

My shooting skills are about 20 years out of date but since then I've taken basic (unarmed) self-defense classes and currently study a martial art (white crane silat) and cross-train in another (escrima). Can I use both effectively in a fight yet? Possibly not, however, someone is less likely to come at me because of the way I present myself - confident and alert. And the bamboo sticks I use for escrima are also a pretty powerful deterrent.

One of the first things from my father was that if someone hit me, I needed to hit them back with a brick. As I got older and more political, I learned from other women that I had a right to defend myself because law enforcement was so poor on that tip.

Groups like the National Women's Martial Arts Federation have specific tracks dedicated to self-defense training and it would be worthwhile to find out who in your town might teach self-defense (and escape/evasion, because really, we're not talking about beating someone down so much as getting away) so anyone who isn't so much on the gun tip could try this avenue.

One group where I live (Oakland, CA) is called Girl Army: Girl Army is a collective dedicated to peer taught, affordable, physical and psychological self-defense for women and trans folks of all cultures. We are committed to providing a safe and supportive space.. It might be worthwhile to compile information for transwomen on where to get low-cost self-defense training.

Go Go Jo Jo said...

So this post has been going through my head today. And I've been thinking about it more and more. Especially as I try to start planning my celebration of being finished with grad school applications (Jan. 15th woot!)I realized that I was extremely nervous about going out to gay bar/club even though I know Houston has several. Mainly because I have never had to experience going out by myself (or possible with a group of mostly straight women) in a hostile environment. I went to school at a women's college in a very lesbian friendly *small* town (can you guess) and so clubbing was never an ordeal. Even when the peeps and I would travel to find *cough* hipper locales I went with a bunch of street wise people who had experience dealing with harassment. Also I am pretty femme so I usually go out in like 5-6 inch stilletos. All of the above are things that make me nervous about even contemplating going out. But I am really tired of straight clubs. Add on that its TX and someone might act stupid "just because" I'm a black woman out at night downtown...

Protection just seems more and more important outside of the college bubble. I agree with Polar that it would require a lot of training to get a gun and be able to own it responsibly. And that sounds really expensive (which is right outside of my price range.)

Maybe self-defense classes though.

(Why is it so much easier to write in your blog than my own? Because its awesome!)

GallingGalla said...

I'll conclude by stating that I support hate crimes laws - but I want to see teeth in them.

One of those teeth I'd like to see is an acknowledgement of the power differential. I've read too often about hate-crimes laws being used *against* POC and other marginalized groups, b/c the current hate-crime laws don't take into account who has the power.

Quite frankly, any extension of hate-crime lege that includes gender identity has to include the stipulation that sentencing enhancements (including mandatory first-degree sentencing, which I think is a good idea) apply only when those with the power (cis, white, male, etc) commit the crime against those who are oppressed (trans, of color, female, etc), or otherwise the law will be used as yet another means of punishing trans people.

ActsofFaithBlog said...


I've heard so many wonderful things about your blog I had to stop by for a visit.

I don't think people realize how closely tied we all are to each other. I'm specifically thinking of how the white corporate media immediately sowed the seeds of discontent over the Prop 8 vote and now have to back-pedal as their lies have been exposed. People are so quick to react and not think critically.

I live in San Francisco and I was astounded by the outpouring of support for the lesbian who survived her assault. Yet I knew if she hadn't been a lesbian her case wouldn't have received the attention it got. For example, if she'd been transgendered and Black would the story have been covered?

I know as a Black female I have always felt vulnerable to unwanted attention and possible physical violation since I was 11. I am all for self-defense and am not opposed to gun ownership but the training in its use and care is very important. If we change some of our priorities and tap into unused clout things will be different.

Feel free to stop by my blog and say hello!