Recently there was a brutal attack against a transgender woman in Fredericksburg, Virginia that occurred on May 21, 2011. It appears there was an interaction with her earlier, she was then followed or spotted at a local 711 and then attacked. One excellent bystander intervened by putting himself between her and the attackers.
It’s appalling that these crimes happen and yet they happen frequently. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender identified individuals continue to be an invisible minority, yet have a higher rate of crime targeted to them. While there are scholarly articles being written, studies being done, and programs striving to address violence against the LGBTQ community, there is much to be done to address continued homophobia in our society, the perseverance of myths about sexuality, and the amount of violence directed against those who are marginalized. The impact of societal neglect and the lack of support have great consequences not only for LGBTQ on health, social and educational issues but for the greater community as well. How do we continue to live with each other with such walls between us? How do we continue to justify the cost of crime, which can be prevented? As a therapist, I watch my own field continue to come up with ways to use diagnosis and treatment as a means to address gender identity and sexuality and see it only a means to further segregate a group from the mainstream. I see this use of labeling being used to move members of our community further out on the fringe where they are in fact more at risk for violence, health consequences, developmental delays, and shortened life-spans.
I feel the two-sided impact of cultural homophobia every day. I feel the division between myself and my peers every day. I suffer the aloneness that comes from not being able to have a full conversation with someone because I am seen as heterosexual and white and therefore an enemy from the privileged mass. I feel that wall of fear and suspicion every day of who I really am and what I really mean. I feel engulfed by the barriers that keep me from people I love, people I work with, and communities I work in and live in, and people I serve.
While I run an anti-violence agency that focuses on sexually violent crimes, I stand with my community to put a voice out against violence toward anyone. Violence in our community effects us greatly; all of us; every day. It costs us in all spectrums of our lives: interpersonally, socially, spiritually, and financially. I hope more people in my communities will stand with me and add your voice to ending violence.
Please contact the Virginia Anti-Violence Project and check out their website for information and services for LGBTQ in Virginia.
articles regarding the assault
May 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm
As a gay person I stand on the other side, always watching what I disclose about myself. Unfortunately so often we still have to “make sure it’s safe”. So many times I have misjudged others even just for “looking conservative” (whatever that means) just because I don’t feel like risking it. I hope we can get over it and move forward. All this divisive thinking is just getting in the way of getting other stuff done that’s so much more important, like standing up against violence!
Thanks for speaking up!!
June 15, 2011 at 9:25 am
breaking the silence around these issues is vital if we are to see change. thank you for this post and for all you do…
July 21, 2011 at 12:17 am
There needs to be some law changes to cover other forms of abuse. Lots of people are bullied, intimidated, and vaguely threatened. These people are also scared. But these cases do not fit the legal definitions of “abuse” or “violence” in Virginia. Research says that psychological abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. These abusers are just as capable of violence as physical abusers.