Friday, December 26, 2008

Canaries In The Memphis Civic Coal Mine

When this video first got uploaded to YouTube a few months ago, I thought about posting and commenting on it based on the lousy reporting in it that tried and miserably failed to make this situation humorous.

Because of other pressing news matters and other issues that garnered my attention I let this one slide for a minute.

Now in light of what's been happening in Memphis over the last few months, I'm recognizing it as a alarm bell and a window into the transphobia that permeates some quarters of the community in Memphis. I believe the frustration over that transphobia and other situations in the Memphis transgender community probably triggered the negative reactions of the transpeople involved in this McDonald blowup chronicled in this jacked up report.

It also gives us some understanding into why all of a sudden Memphis has become a dangerous city for transpeople to live in.

I'm also beginning to warm up to the idea being floated in some quarters of the transgender community of having us and our allies boycott Memphis until their po-po's get it through their heads that 'protect and serve the citizens' means ALL Memphis residents, and that Memphis realizes that it's not okay to declare open season on their transgender residents.

Memphis citizens, if you don't work diligently to find the person or persons who are committing these attacks on transgender people, you may one day have this violence visited upon a member of your own family who may or may not be a transwoman. One that day you will painfully learn the lesson of the 'inescapable web of mutuality' that Dr. King talked about.

Memphis, you have a problem, and it's time in conjunction with local groups in the city, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and other state groups to work together to solve it before more people get hurt or killed.


Véro B said...

WTF? Sure would have been nice if they had given us a little context. I'm guessing this must have happened after one of the murders.

Poor reporting indeed.

Monica Roberts said...

Lady V.
A more valid question I would have asked is what did you say to the transpeople that pissed them off?

Polar said...

I'd like to know the whole truth of what provoked the attack- I suspect a failure to serve, and perhaps some derogatory slurs, on the part of McD's. However, when people in our own community commit crimes, we do ourselves no good at all in defending their illegal actions, either. Sending employees to the hospital with signage and tire irons isn't permissable for anyone no matter how they dressed to do it. If true, they should be prosecuted as anyone else would be. And, yes, I wonder if incidents like this have escalated to the recent killings, probably police related, in Memphis.

Véro B said...

The whole story would have been the responsible thing to do. What they did instead is a very bad joke. :(

Diojeanne of Signup said...

I'm not convinced that a boycott can be an effective tool for the trans community.

Trans 1: *gets shot*
Trans 2: *gets beaten*
Cop: "Doo dee dee doo... Writin' speeding tickets... doo doo doo!"
Trans 3: "I'm never coming to this town again!"
Chief of Police: "... just as planned."

Hazumu Osaragi said...

I work in video. The more I read these stories, the more I think it would be good for some of us to 'arm' ourselves with covert camera-recorders when we go out.

The equipment can be had for under $1000 (I know, I know, still a huge chunk of change to many of the poorest of us.) Google covert video.

Color camera concealed in [fashionable cameo choker/eyeglasses/button/etc.,]

MPEG4 digital video recorder the size of an iPhone, with 3+hr battery capacity (more, if you're an electronics geek,)

Viral video of some disgusting transbigot words or actions posted to video sharing sites,

It has its downsides -- Wearers can get "Kodak Courage" and do dumb $#!^ themselves or provoke a situation because they feel 'protected', it gets into huge privacy and civil rights issues...

But having a visceral record of acts of hate and bigotry will be invaluable in helping make the case for hate crimes and ENDA-like laws nationwide.


e^10 said...

Wow. I live in Memphis; I didn't know I was in so much danger. Guess I'll have to inform my boss that I will no longer be working the 7:30 to midnight shift in South Memphis.

Seriously, though, the pattern that people are missing is that it's been mostly (if not entirely) black trans women who have to engage in sex work. In other words, the most vulnerable people here are at the highest risk of being victims of crimes like these, which speaks to the need for a secular progressive shelter system and an inclusive ENDA.

Also, that McDonalds incident happened over a year ago.

-Chris from TSTB

Dale said...

As Chris mentioned, the McDonald's incident happened in November, 2007. This leaves plenty of time for followup, but after the arrests the case (and the individuals) seem to have fallen off the media's radar.

A troubling aspect of the media reports is that they all ignore the views of the transgender individuals. I suspect they were provoked, but we have no way of knowing their side of the story.

A related problem, obviously, is that we don't know how the individuals identified. Are they crossdressers as alleged? Or are they drag queens as alleged (sometimes in the same story). Or do they identify as women? Judging from their mug shots, I'd say there is good reason to think that two may identify as women. But none of the media outlets bothered to investigate.

And what really troubles me is the mocking attitude of a news source which I would expect to be friendly, the Memphis Flyer (alternative weekly). It's first article, features a ridiculous photo and equally ridiculous tone. Its second article ends with the line "either way the mug shots are priceless. If you visit that second link, you will see there is nothing unusual in those photos.

I am disappointed that none of the media followed up the case, in terms of court decisions or in the perspective of the persons involved. It would have been nice for either of the two GLBT news sources to have tried to contact the transgender persons involved in the fracas, but neither source indicated that they tried.

Monica Roberts said...

That's the problem I have with this entire incident. Nobody in the MSM bothered to ask the transpeople involved their side of the story.