Anti-transgender violence in NC, CA and Puerto Rico

Trigger warning.
Violence against transgender folks is so constant we miss covering a lot of murders. In early April Charlotte, NC resident Toni Alston was shot and killed. The infuriatingly standard failures by law enforcement, the press, and politicians in responding to the murder of a transgender woman followed.
Two weeks ago Ashley Santiago Ocasio was shot in the head in her Corozal, Puerto Rico home. Whether this was murder was motivated by transphobia is not known for sure yet, but the incredibly violent nature of the crime scene implies a hate crime. Ashley’s slaying is especially frightening for the transgender and gender non-conforming community in Puerto Rico since it follows the recent slaying of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado.
On April 15 A transgender graduate student (who prefers to remain anonymous) at California State University-Long Beach was attacked in a men’s restroom on campus. His attacker carved the word “IT” into the student’s chest. Amidst all the hand wringing by opponents of transgender rights about trans folks in public restrooms, this attack is a sad reminder these gendered public spaces are actually too often a site of violent attacks against transgender and gender non-conforming folks.
My thoughts are with these individual’s communities and the survivor of the CSULB attack as they all grieve and try to move forward. Such violence is so overwhelmingly prevalent. We need massive cultural change, need respect for the life of all people trying to live their genders on their own terms in an incredibly fucked up world.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Bridgette

    “Violence against transgender folks is so constant we miss covering a lot of murders.”
    Thank you for posting these stories. I know how frustrating it is to try and catch all of the murders and assaults and report on them. Most of these incidents remain unsolved even years after the crime.

  • Kessei

    “Amidst all the hand wringing by opponents of transgender rights about trans folks in public restrooms, this attack is a sad reminder these gendered public spaces are actually too often a site of violent attacks against transgender and gender non-conforming folks.”
    But who is causing the violence? Going into the bathroom of the other gender doesn’t hurt somebody; it’s running into an attacker in that bathroom that will result in harm.
    So is there no fear of violence by women in the women’s bathroom? If not, then this comment makes it sound as if it’s a simple truth that men will cause violence, and transwomen (along with women who were born with female genitalia) need to be protected from men.
    And if that’s true, then who decides if someone is “not-man” enough for women to be safe around? When does a person cross the line from being “potential threat” to “comrades in fear of violence”? Who gets to decide?
    The whole thing is a mess. I wish we could just have single-use, accessible bathrooms become standard.

  • Dawn.

    Thank you for pointing out just how horrifyingly prevalent transphobic violence is.
    You are absolutely right: we need more than hate crimes legislation. We need more than awareness and visibility. We need a radical cultural shift. We need to stop the rampant dehumanization of people who don’t fit into society’s harmfully narrow classifications.
    It is so terrifying to know just what humans are capable of when they hate who you are. Thank you to all my out trans brothers and sisters: you are so fierce and so brave and I love, love, love you. To my cis brothers and sisters: we need to fight this hate with them. They are our family.

  • khw

    My thoughts are with the grieving. This appalling violence – and the conditions that permit it – MUST stop.

  • Toongrrl

    California is going to right wing hell….save us!!

  • Max

    I am increasingly content with the new media coverage of transgender issues. It’s true that the violence against transgender individuals, gender non-conformists, etc. are not well-covered. In part, I feel its appropriate to assume, that many Americans simply think they had it coming.
    This is how imbued America and many other countries are with gender binaries of female and male. It is not ok to be outside, beside, or in-between of this system.
    It also feels great to read transgender violence news in such an accepting, feminist news source. Thank you!

  • Dena

    Thank you so much for posting these. I never would have known about these other stories as well. I suppose there are always more stories we are not hearing about. My heart goes out to the families and communities of all the victims. Ugh.