Again, I find myself apologising for the lack of activity on the page, but apparently teachers have NO TIME FOR ANYTHING. Seriously. Those who say “Those who can’t do, teach,” need to spend a week in my shoes. Broken up for Christmas now (YIPEE!) so that’s two weeks of me sat at home reading and writing feminist articles!
Hope the festive season treats you well,
Part 10: Getting away with murder
CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, transphobia, murder & violence
I’m warning you right now that if you’re hoping to have stumbled across a delightfully festive feminist article, you will be disappointed. In fact, you’re about to read something which has the potential to make your blood boil to the extent that your eyes will melt and fall out of their sockets (sorry for the gory imagery, I’ve been reading too much Stephen King).
Today was the first time I ever heard of ‘panic’ defense through a post on Facebook by That Transgender Chick. The original post came from hellboundhayden on Tumblr, generating nearly 100,000 notes. Panic defense is (according to 49 states in America) an acceptable excuse to offer up in a court of law if you murder a trans or a homosexual individual. And it essentially means what it says: ‘Oh, I found out they weren’t straight/cis, I panicked and killed them. Please don’t punish me.’
So by now, your blood is probably at about 99 degrees, right? But I haven’t even got to the worst part yet… Not only does this kind of defense exist, but it actually works. In numerous cases where the perpetrator should have been charged with murder (and probably would under any other circumstances), by using the gay or trans ‘panic’ defense, their charges have been significantly reduced, some even reduced to manslaughter as opposed to homicide.
And I don’t mean fifty years ago. I’m talking about Larry King who was murdered by a class mate in 2008 after his supposed ‘flirtation’ resulted in his death, his murderer pleaded the gay panic defense and was charged with a reduced sentence. Gwen Araujo was beaten to death in 2002 by a group of men upon their discovery that she was a trans individual – their sentences were reduced through the trans panic defense after claiming that she deceived them about her identity. The list goes on.
Back to hellboundhayden’s post. Forty nine states? What about number fifty?
California is the fiftieth state, and the only state to have banned gay and trans panic defenses – a move which only happened this year. In essence, the Californian state has officially said you can’t use someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a justification to murder them.
How has this taken so long?
So today I leave you with a thought. 1 in 12 trans individuals will be murdered (a huge proportion compared to the entire population) and 1 in 5 victims of hate crime are based on sexual orientation bias, and yet rather than trying to reduce these numbers, we are actually allowing the perpetrators to get away with murder (quite literally) because they ‘panicked’. Do I really need to spell this out? There is no justification for violence and murder, let alone the fact that an individual who is not cis and straight panics you. What kind of equality is that?