Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Violence is transgendered

February was a terrible month for citizens of the U.S. and U.K. who identify as transgendered. In this, our shortest month, five people were murdered because of their non-conformist gender identity.

That’s a lie. MORE than five people were murdered, but five particularly outrageous cases received an eensy bit of media attention. I am using outrageous in its purest form. These cases give particular reason to be outraged.
Five might not seem like a lot.   Truthfully, it’s not a lot. But think of it this way. These five people, ranging in age from 10-25, were killed because of the circle they do or don’t fill in on the SATs.

You go to Whitman. Think of one thing you do that goes against the grain. Try to picture the grain: it might have been a couple years since you’ve seen it. But I promise you there is something. Some little thing about how you live your life, which is problematic to someone in the big wide world. Then imagine you’re sitting in your Core class and someone walks in with a gun. Someone you know. And they look at your face, and they know you, and they shoot you. Now you are dead and some of the people in your Core class are glad about this.

Remember, this is because you print double sided and you are REALLY bugging the loggers in central Oregon. Yes. Being transgendered and printing double-sided are comparable. Both are personal choices, and both make less than zero sense as reasons for someone to hurt you. And yet.

Cameron McWilliams, a 10-year-old from the U.K., hanged himself in his sister’s room on Feb. 4 after telling his mom that he wanted to be a girl. I count this in this list because this child (CHILD.) was so terrified of the violence others would want to enact on him, that he preferred   instead to turn on himself.

On Feb. 5, a transgender woman was shot in the head in an empty lot in Detroit. Throughout the investigation, she was referred to as an “unidentified and unknown age black male wearing women’s clothing.” Even the bullet in her head makes no difference in stemming the attacks on her body. She has died, and people who have no idea who she is continue to ignore her existence as a transgender woman. So I am acknowledging her, and asking you to do the same.

Acknowledge how even the police, in their quest to avenge the physical violence toward this woman, have committed their own.

Sanesha Stewart, a 25-year-old transgender woman in the Bronx, was murdered on Feb. 9 by Steve McMillan, who had known her for months but stabbed her to death upon realizing she was transgendered. I’m 21 years old. This woman was four years older than me when her life ended. I have, and she had, a lot more years than four worth of stuff to do. This is the part of the analogy where you are sitting in Core class, the last one before you head off to Mexico for Spring Break.

You have a ton to do, even in the next week, but then that person you know walks in holding a gun. You sort of thought you were friends. Things aren’t looking so friendly now. Because you voted Republican as a Whitman student, and she identified as a woman. Both of you went against the current, and there are people that want you dead for it.

On Feb. 12, Lawrence King, an eighth grader from Oxnard, Calif., was shot by his classmate, Brandon McInerny.  King, age 15, was openly gay and was considered to be effeminate, wearing gender-bending clothing, makeup, jewelry and shoes. So many Kings shot and killed for living, and by living, agitating. So little time. I wish nothing but ill upon those who supply bigoted 15-year-olds with guns. I do not, however, wish them dead. I was raised right. I’m not an idiot. Murderers are.

On Feb. 25, 17-year-old Simmie Williams was shot in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in an area frequented by transsexual prostitutes.  Simmie was wearing female clothing and may have been working as a prostitute.

So there are five beautiful human bodies, ripped apart by bullets. And bigger than that, by stupidity. In the last 21 days.

As I write this article, Word is underlining in red the word transgendered. It does not exist in the dictionary, which means it does not exist at all, according to the powers that be. Terrorism is alive and well, on the streets of Fort Lauderdale, the classrooms of Oxnard and in my little white MacBook. The question is what the War on Terror to end this violence will look like.

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  • K

    KristineSep 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

    one thing which many people misunderstand.

    being a transsexual or intersexed individual is simply not a choice like printing on the opposite side of a paper.

    It’s a choice of treating a medical condition much like choosing to treat diabetes..

    but yes, as you phrased why do people feel the need to brutally attack and kill people simply because they are different?

  • B

    Brianne Testa-Wojteczko '01Apr 1, 2008 at 11:35 am

    As a follow-up to this article, I’m proud to say that Whitman’s Board of Trustees modified our non-discrimiation policy to include gender identity in 2001. We were on the forefront of the now-growing ranks to include transgendered people as a protected class to our organization’s policies, thanks to the assistance of Sociology professor Keith Farrington and then-president Tom Cronin.
    –Brianne Testa-Wojteczko,
    class of 2001

  • S

    Sarah RiggleMar 6, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I have become too complacent in my little bubble here in south georgia. I transitioned 5 years ago and the only discrimination that I have been subjected to was from a few members of my church. I go to an Episcopal Church; a church built on mediation, a church that welcomes people as they are.
    I have become separated from the real world of hate and anger and vile treatment of those who are seen as different in other places in America. In the complacency of my surroundings I have stepped out of my shell of least resistance, forsaking my wall of fear to help others who have stood up to be counted.
    It is time to bring attention to any brutal act perpetuated against those who are gender variant.