Tag Archives: violence

The Rhetoric of Trans According to Popular Culture

Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicide and violence toward trans people.

This week the Williams Institute at UCLA released further analysis from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted a couple of years ago with the National Task Force (formerly NGLTF). The point of analysis? Transgender suicide attempts, which the survey found had occurred in forty-one percent of the more than 6,000 responses. This would mean that suicide ideation—thinking about suicide or considering suicide—would be even higher (but these data weren’t captured in the survey itself). The Williams Institute analysts, Ann Haas, Philip Rogers, and Jody Herman (a dear friend of mine), looked at other correlations in the data in order to find any drivers for suicide attempts. You can read their full analysis at the link above.

In the context of this month’s completely inappropriate article in Grantland.com, in which an aspiring sportswriter outed a trans woman and in which that outing led to her suicide, it was declared by Bill Simmons, Grantland’s Editor-in-Chief, that they should have known better than to run the article in part because trans people have “an appallingly high rate of suicide.” I would argue that these carefully analyzed data show the reverse emphasis to be true—that transpeople are exposed to repeated instances of rejection, alienation, harassment, threats, and violence, and that suicidal ideation and attempts are a direct consequence of such stress. In other words, transgender and gender non-conforming people suffer from an appallingly high rate of abuse, including invasive journalism, as it turns out.

Given these data, I feel compelled to trace out some of the narratives and rhetoric around transition and about the trans community that lend to this sense of disrespect, vulnerability, and hopelessness. Read More…

Down the Rabbit-Hole

Let’s pretend violence is incomprehensible. Let’s pretend that the problem with guns isn’t about a lack of background checks or the extreme availability of weapons but with crazed madmen and an unabridged desire to kill people. Let’s pretend there is no relationship between NRA public relations and gun lobbying on Capitol Hill and the fact that Congress refuses to change gun laws even though 92 percent of Americans want to see universal background checks.

Let’s pretend that bombing the finish line of a marathon is a great time to check to make sure that Tagg Romney is okay. Let’s pretend that the well funded news machine isn’t in competition with people’s photos posted on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s pretend that it’s okay to put out any garbage about the calamity still happening in Beantown and call it news–unchecked, unverified, unconnected with any journalistic integrity. Let’s pretend that social media doesn’t morph into one huge trigger for the survivors of 9/11, Newtown, Aurora, the London Underground, or the Madrid bombings. Let’s pretend though that the sight of blood on the sidewalk in those Twitter photos is even more gruesome to American viewers because our regular news is so sanitized, while bombings are a near-daily occurrence in places all over the world.

Let’s pretend that we’re not about to descend into politicized name-calling from both parties about Patriot Day and intelligence failures and President Obama’s failures as a leader. Let’s pretend that there won’t be spotlighted Senate hearings at taxpayer expense to examine how bombs could go off on US soil while we were celebrating achievement and American exceptionalism. Let’s pretend we’ll have a helpful conversation about violence and what fuels such anger among some people that they would take to calculating explosions at a sporting event. Let’s pretend those conversations will get us anywhere better as a people.

Let’s pretend this will never happen again. Let’s pretend we can avoid telling our kids about what happened today, lest their worlds be interrupted by bombs and selfishness and dismemberment and bloody shards of glass. Let’s pretend we have some hope of healing and not descending into finger-pointing and a series of cruel memes on the Internet.

Let’s pretend it’s yesterday, or the day before PanAm 103 exploded in the air over Scotland. Let’s pretend we can stay in the 5 minutes after we woke up this morning where all we were thinking about was our first cup of coffee and the lovely feeling of hot water streaming out of the shower. Let’s pretend we can turn off news of this tragedy and just look out at the spring day and the tulips across the street even if all we can muster is a weak smile.

Let’s pretend these families will find solace and recovery and strength from their communities, and when they lobby their elected leaders to improve the lives of the rest of us, that we listen to them because they earned their position of advocacy in the hardest way.

Let’s pretend to be a country with interest in each other.

And maybe then we can move on to someplace new.

The Persistence of Unreality

assault riflesNot only do we have vapid debates in America about which beer is better, which sports team is more fearsome than which other sports team, and the like, but in the wake of our nation’s latest mass shooting, in which 20 children under age 7 perished, now we debate about whether it’s appropriate to debate. Now is not the time, many people attested this weekend, to talk about gun control. Some folks threatened to “unfriend” others on Facebook if those people persisted in posting about mental health support or gun laws, saying that they were obviously making it about “political issues.” Never mind the idiom about the personal being political that’s been around for 40 years, perhaps there is a time for mourning and a time for reflection about what’s led us to these moments. I say moments because a 6-year-old died in the Aurora, CO shooting, a 9-year-old in the Tuscon, AZ shooting  of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and of course there are hundreds of kids under 14 killed by guns every year in the US that get next to no media coverage. But even when the guns in an incident were purchased legally, even when there is no long history of mental health instability, and even when the majority of victims are defenseless kids, some among us insist on sticking to the same talking points to defend the status quo. Let’s look at these talking points, and hopefully it’s okay, four days later, to start some kind of dialogue about gun violence and gun rights. If I get defriended on Facebook, so be it.

If we don’t have assault rifles, we won’t be able to prevent the government from becoming a fascist state–Let’s see . . . the Department of Defense carries a budget of more than $680 billion. Read More…

City-Wide Blinders

shooting victim Julio MartinezWalla Walla suffered its first homicide of the year with a gang-related drive-by shooting on Tuesday night. Also, it was the first gunshot death in the city as far back as anyone can remember, which makes it ipso facto the first for us residents. When 20-year-old Julio Cessar Martinez was rolled into the emergency department at St. Mary’s Hospital, I can only imagine how the trauma team responded. They’re much more likely to come across a farm machinery accident, drug overdose, car crash victim, or domestic violence survivor than this. Presumably, this is a foreign moment to Walla Wallans, who are bent on creating a wine economy to draw in the nouveau rich from the West Side. As the economy sluggishly picks up speed, still in the shadow of the 2008 credit collapse, downtown is springing up all kinds of new shops and eateries to cater not to local folks so much as the weekenders who need a break from their hectic lives at Amazon, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

This violence is unheard of. Or is it? Read More…

%d bloggers like this: