As thousands of people in cities all across the world gathered on November 20th to memorialize the 23 transgender women that were murdered in the past year as named by transgenderdor.org, some of us decided to skip the opportunity of silently listening to the politicians of the “trans community” recite the names of our dead over candlelight, romantic as it sounded. Instead we ventured into the mist and fog of a northwest autumn night and put up some graffiti as small gestures of antagonism towards the state, the bashers and the leftists who use the blood of trans women to build campaigns of hate crime legislation and reform. We are against hate crime legislation because we are against prisons, against the infuriating portrayal of police as protectors, against rising for their judges in their detestable courtrooms, against (though not surprised in the least by) the way that such legislation is used to defend those in positions of power and because we are, at heart, hate filled criminal enemies of civilized society.
By the end of the night several walls and surfaces had been subject to the vandalism of the trans symbol, circle a’s, the largely sprayed proclamation “Too Many Trans Deaths, Not Enough Dead Pigs” and 20 feet of silver letters across a darkly painted business rooftop reading “Vengeance for Shelley Hilliard!!!! (A) Bash Back!”
Shelly Hilliard, also known as Treasure, was a 19 year old trans woman from Detroit who was identified by a tattoo earlier this month after her burned torso was found on the side of the highway. Krissi Bates was found stabbed to death in her Minneapolis apartment in January in a brutal murder that was described as “over-kill.” Tyra Trent was strangled to death in her Baltimore apartment in February. Miss Nate Nate Eugene Davis was shot and left behind a Houston dumpster in June. Lashai Mclean was shot in the street in Washington, DC in July. Camila Guzman was stabbed to death by a john in New York City in August. Gaurav Gopalan died from trauma to the head in September and Chassity Vickers was shot in Hollywood just four days ago, on November 16th.
These are just a few examples of transsexual homicides in the US alone that made headlines this year. Women whose lives and deaths get summed up by reporter after snake-eyed reporter who can barely manage to contain their contempt for the queer and make no effort whatsoever to disguise their disdain for anyone alleged to have been a criminal or whore. Funeral services become the rushed lowering of mangled corpses into the ground, in anticipation of a grave on which to spit. This was exemplified by the pastor of Lashai Mclean’s funeral, who repeatedly referred to her by male pronouns and went as far as to incite a mass walk out of the many trans attendants by claiming that “When you live a certain lifestyle this is the consequence you have to pay.”
While we remember our dead let us not forgot about those still struggling, especially those who are facing charges and/or living lives in cages.
In June Catherine Carlson was sentenced to 10 years in an Idaho prison after being convicted of first degree arson, unlawful possession of a bomb, using a hoax destructive device, and indecent exposure. Before her conviction she had locked herself in her trailer for years and left only when necessary, approximately once every ten days when she needed food and could no longer subsist off of coffee alone. Every time she left her home she was taunted by police. Despite having had her name legally changed for over three decades, she couldn’t get her given name removed from her license. She was jailed on four occasions for driving without a license in her stubborn and inspiring refusal to acknowledge the state’s attempt at controlling her gender. Eventually this torment led to rupture. Catherine constructed what appeared to be four pipe bombs, left them next to a propane tank, set her trailer and her truck on fire, and walked down the highway naked until being stopped and arrested. She is currently being held in the hole of a men’s prison despite having had sex reassignment surgery.
On the night of June 5th in Minneapolis, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald was harassed outside of a bar for being black and trans and had a glass smashed in her face. A fight broke out and minutes later her attacker, Dean Schmitz, had been fatally stabbed. CeCe was arrested, charged with murder, got bailed out after a month in isolation and is currently awaiting trial.
Three trans women were arrested in connection to a flash mob attack on a New York City Dunkin Donuts that happened on Christopher St the night of May 16th. Christopher St is a street with a rich history of queer and trans resistance (including the Stonewall Riots) and an apparent inability to rid itself of the fierce homeless trans youth it is known for despite decades of gentrification and “quality of life” campaigns. During the flash mob, two dozen transgender youth stormed the shop, threw chairs, destroyed expensive coffee machines and looted goods. Those arrested have been charged with assault, criminal mischief, menacing, rioting and criminal possession of a weapon.
In August, off duty officer Kenneth Fur took it upon himself to remind us that police are the absolute enemy. He became angry when three trans women in DC refused complicity in his entitled assumption that his pig salary could buy any trans body he encountered on the street. So angry, in fact, that he climbed onto the roof of their car and shot the passengers inside. One woman was grazed by a bullet, one was shot in the hand and the brother of one of the women was shot in the chest. The cops were kind enough to show up and escort the injured individuals to the hospital…in handcuffs.
A few days ago Brooke Fantelli was repeatedly tased in El Centro, Ca by a Bureau of Land Management ranger. Brooke was stopped for public intoxication while taking pictures in the desert. After being ID’ed the ranger told her, “You used to be a guy.” and then tased her with her hands up. Once she was on the ground he tased her again, this time in the genitals.
Also this month, Andrea Jones was arrested for indecent exposure, or more accurately, for exposing the legal system as the brutally illogical apparatus of control that it is. Andrea went topless in a Tennessee DMV after they refused to change the gender on her ID to female. As a “male”, she said, she had the legal right to take off her shirt. She was jailed for three weeks, lost her job and will most likely have to register as a sex offender. As usual, cops and CO’s are free to rape us and expose us to sexual violence meanwhile charging those they take hostage as “sex offenders.” Those most vulnerable to this tactic of the state are the gender variant, queer inmates and black men who are demonized in racist smear campaigns by the media as “rapists” every time a cop gets shot.
Finally, we want to mention Amazon, a transsexual lesbian who has been in prison for the past 30 years and is serving life in California. In a letter that was published in a Black and Pink newsletter earlier this year she says “I am from Gender Anarky Collective in the prisons. We are a militant organization fighting for transsexual medicine in the form of female hormones and sex-corrective surgery, and against all forms of hate, genocide and discrimination by cops or prisoners alike, and are also a self defense structure and will fight, have fought, and are fighting for ours on the yards. I am currently in the hole for ‘battery on an inmate with a weapon.’ Two other girls are here with me, one for three counts of assault on staff who jumped on her. We survive by aggressive self defense.” She then proceeds to denounce activism and engagement in politics, describing instead the necessary “post-apocalyptic civil war madness” that the myth of social peace works desperately to keep us from. “Prison is government. No government in the world is going to allow anyone to deconstruct its prisons, come what may. Therefore, to actually abolish prisons, the government must be destroyed, overthrown.”
Here’s to the end of the capitalist system that the police imprison us to protect and to freedom for trans women, and freedom for us all. As our hearts burn with the loss of our loved ones, may their cities burn as well.
Dean Schmitz was not the first and he will not be the last!
VENGEANCE NOT REMEMBRANCE! WE WILL NOT REST IN PEACE!