AIDS Conference Interruptus


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The 2015 US Conference on AIDS was held September 10-13 in Washington, DC. On the opening day dozens of transgender and gender-nonconforming people seized the stage at the lunchtime plenary session to draw attention to HIV+ gender-variant people.

The group was chanting, We are not gay men! to protest the inclusion of trans women in gay male research and statistics.



Straightening out the timeline (so to speak)

Another name has been added to the list of transgender women of color either murdered this year or found dead.

Keisha Blige of Montgomery, IL, was shot while driving a car with a friend in Aurora in March. Blige attempted to drive herself to the hospital but lost control and crashed into a Jeep. Paramedics transported her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The Chicago Tribune misgendered Blige, as has happened by the media in all of the cases this year, as well as using her dead name. Police said the shooting was not considered to be random, but declared that it "definitely was not a hate crime."

In a later story the Tribune identified Blige as transgender and taking hormones, but still used male pronouns.

Now Keyshia's friend Sasha Love has reported to the Guardian that Blige identified as transgender and used female pronouns.

She was the happiest I had ever seen her once she started transitioning.




The pain and confusion misgendering causes

Jasmine Collins was a 33-year-old transgender woman living in an Area of Kansas City known as the Bottoms. If you can call it living...

Jasmine did survival sex work as an occupation.

She was just the typical girl out here,” said Kris Wade, co-founder and executive director of the Justice Project, which works with 29 women engaged in so-called “survival sex work”, a majority of whom are transgender or sex-trafficked into Kansas City.

On June 23 some of the girls began texting Wade, asking if Jasmine had been killed behind the Fast Stop gasoline station.

Knowing that the Fast Stop gas station on Independence Avenue was notorious as a place where any cop could “always find a body”, Wade said she called the Kansas City police homicide division for answers.

Did you guys find a transgender woman dead body behind the Fast Stop? And they’re like, ‘No, we haven’t had any bodies behind the Fast Stop’.





 photo Kc Haggard_zps4q2g49c8.jpgAround 2am Thursday K. c. Haggard was walking along a Fresno street when an SUV pulled up and engaged K.c. in conversation through the passenger side window. Suddenly the occupant of the vehicle reached out of it to stab K. c. in the neck...and then drove off. The murder was caught on video from a surveillance camera outside a tattoo parlor. I have chosen not to share that video.

Haggard was later pronounced dead at Community Regional Medical Center.

Fresno police described Haggard as a man named Kenton, even though K. c. was wearing a dress and cardigan and carrying a purse.

Fresno police Lt. Joe Gomez said the department refers to crime victims by their physiological sex and will only note a person’s transgender status if that information will help the investigation.

Gomez said investigators have received no information indicating that Haggard was transgender.

Gomez added that police also have no reason to believe that Haggard was killed because of appearance or possible transgender status.



Not a man in a dress

 photo Clarke_zpsxwns6dbz.jpgSeveral dozen folks gathered last evening at the University Area Community Center in Tampa, including the friends and family of transgender woman India Clarke, whose body had been found Tuesday morning at playground near the center, a victim of blunt force trauma.

A growing shrine at the site near where Clarke’s body was found included a stuffed bear, flowers and balloons and, because India would have loved it, two selfies.

So he has a picture in his phone and I pray that they find his phone so that I can get a copy of that picture, cause he took his last picture of me and him together Sunday leaving my house.’

--Thelma Clarke, India's mother



Trans women assaulted in public

 photo earls_zpsmnqio6w8.jpgMany of the stories I have tracked recently have been, all in all, on the good news side. But you should not be led to think that life for transgender people has all become a bed of roses. There are still people who do not believe we should be seen anywhere in public.

Warren Earls identifies as a trans woman. She's 59 and is used to being verbally abused. But her recent trip on the DC Circulator bus got out of hand.

I got on the bus and sat down behind the bus driver. A group of kids got on -- about seven of them. The one that I noticed started off saying to the rest of them, ‘Isn't it a shame to be old and gay.’

I told him to go ahead and leave me alone and that's when he started cussing and making threats about what he's going to do on me.


Earls used her phone to record the incident as she rode the 15 minutes from Southeast DC to Anacostia.









'Love ya later'

Josh Vallum is a 28-year-old member of the Latin Kings. He's an ex-con, having been convicted of felony false reporting of a crime, for which he was sentenced to serve 8 years. He was paroled in May of 2014.

On June 1 Josh told his father Bobby Jim that he had killed someone. Not only that, but the body was in a field behind his daddy's house in Rocky Creek, MS.

On June 2 the elder Vallum and sheriff's deputies started a search of the property and Deputy Sgt. Larry Harvard discovered a partially decomposed body hidden under some debris.

It so happened that a young girl had gone missing from nearby Theodore, AL. Police had been provided with a DNA sample of the missing teen and it was compared to DNA from the body that had been found.




Speaking for The Dead: Transgender Day of Remembrance

At some instant
one day
the words will cease to flow
their creator (or vessel)
having passed through
the Door
between herenow
and therethen

The words left behind
the ideas they expressed
the actions they instigated
will be all
that remains
to weigh the meaning
of this particular existence

Regret is extinguished
if the words
have expressed
concern and care
and a life lived well

--Robyn Serven
--September 21, 2007

Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse!

--John Derek, Knock on Any Door (1949)

The quote is often erroneously attributed to James Dean.

Some of the murder victims whose stories are told after the break may have tried to live with that philosophy, but the violence visited upon them almost assuredly negated the last part. Being set on fire, run over by a car, shot in the face, or stoned to death usually preclude a "good looking corpse."

A few comments of note: In Brazil, where most of the murders took place, those who would probably be regarded as transgender women here are referred to as travesti (transvestites) and so male pronouns are most often used. I tried to correct that as much as possible. It is also the case that the Police in Brazil are whole-heartedly in favor of blaming the victim, so revenge, drug involvement, "working the program" (prostituting), revenge, or "reckoning" are almost always given as the suspected motives. Gay men in drag, on the other hand, are usually thought to be victims of homophobia. Finally, an autopsy of a transgender woman in Brazil is usually called a necropsy...a word which we reserve for non-sentient animals.

All of those comments may shed light on why there are so many murders in Brazil (77 out of the 121). The United States is second, with 10, (but we try harder...I'm sure we can catch up). Mexico is third with 9.

That works out to one murder of a transgender person about every 74 hours and 27 minutes.

For what it is worth, five of the victims and one of the killers had the last name of da Silva. Ages of the victims ran from 8-year-old Alex Madeiros to 52-year-old Betty Skinner. One of the victims was 16, while 5 were 18 and two were 19.

The list I have generated was collated from several sources, including the Transgender Violence Portal and Memorializing 2014 at the International Transgender Day of Remembrance site.



Transgender Awareness

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It's Transgender Awareness time. In some locations it's the entire month of November. Some locales are celebrating for a week...generally around November 10-20...ending with Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20 and/or Transgender Day of Celebration on November 21.

So I guess it is my job to help make you aware. :-)

I've got some videos from the I Am project and some news bits which I hope fit that agenda.



Transgender Woman shot to death in East Hollywood











During the robbery, there was a struggle, and there were shots fired, and the victim was struck one time. It appears they were struck in the head.

--LAPD Lt. Joe Losorelli

It's really, really frightening for all of us, especially out here in the streets and stuff because discrimination is still very high in our community,

--Karina Samala of the Transgender Advisory Board of West Hollywood




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