Societal Expectations, Gender Stereotypes, and Mob Mentality in North America
December 31, 2015 at 6:00 AM
This may be a bit more of an emotional piece than what you're used to from me, as this is the first article I've ever written while in tears.
Why? Nothing bad happened to me. No.. It's for humanity. Or rather, because of humanity. We have so much potential as a species, and we are capable of a great many spectacular and mind-boggling feats. Alas, it's the brightest ray of light, which casts the darkest shadow. We are also capable of great cruelty, horrors, and abominations, the likes of which I hope none of you ever have/will personally encounter(ed).
Luckily, we've made progress over time. Things are better now overall, than they ever were in any point in history. We've gained so much ground for equality and human rights. In history you may recall the fight for equal treatment and rights for women, and a similar fight for black/ethnic rights, and then more recently (and even still continuing on some levels), the fight for equality and fair treatment of Lesbian, Bi, and Gay individuals. It's a lot to be proud of.
Just think about it... There was a time, really not so long ago, when a black person could not life a free and fair life.. There was a time when a woman could not vote, and there was a time when someone who is gay could be criminally charged or even killed for simply loving someone.
However, now is not the time to stop. There are still truly vile, disgusting, and heart-wrenchingly terrifying forms of discrimination and withholding of basic human rights, to several minority groups, here, in North America.
What I am speaking of, is the Transgender Men, Women, Boys, and Girls, all over the world, who are being harassed, beaten, and murdered, even here at home.
Recently, the media and governments have finally started paying a bit of attention towards trans issues, and we hope that through public awareness and education, the general population can become more familiar with the issues, and help prevent future violence.
So, how big of a problem is it really, you're probably wondering.
Here is a list of the *reported* trans murders in 2015 for USA alone. (actual numbers significantly higher as many go miscategorized or unreported)
- Papi Edwards of Indianapolis Indiana. died of a single bullet wound to the chest at Fern Valley Motel on 9 January.
- Lamia Beard of Norfolk, Virginia, was found with life-threatening gunshot wounds on the morning of 17 January. She was taken to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she died.
- Ty Underwood of Tyler, Texas, was found in her car, dead from three gunshot wounds, on 26 January. Her roommate feels she may have been targeted because she was a transgender woman.
- Yazmin Vash Payne of Van Nuys, California, was found stabbed and burned to death in her apartment on 31 January. The following day her boyfriend confessed to the murder and surrendered to police.
- Taja DeJesus was stabbed to death in San Francisco, California, on 3 February 2015. She was 36 years old.
- Penny Proud of New Orleans, Louisiana, was fatally shot multiple times on 10 February.
- Bri Golec of Akron, Ohio, was stabbed to death by his father, Kevin Golic, on 13 February 2015. Bri was 22 years old. His father called 911 after the stabbing claiming it was "the cult" that had broken in and stabbed Brian. The cult he referred to is believed to be a local trans support group. Police determined that no one had broken in.
- Kristina Gomez Reinwald of Miami, Florida, was found dead in her apartment on 15 February. She was 46 years old.
- Sumaya Dalmar of Toronto, Canada, was found dead on 22 February. She was 26 years old.
- Keyshia Blige, a 33-year-old from Montgomery, Illinois, was killed 7 March 2015. Blige was shot while driving and crashed while attempting to drive herself to the hospital. "Police declined to comment on the motive for the shooting, but described it as "not random."
- Vanessa Santillan, a 33-year-old from Miami, Florida, was fatally beaten on the head and neck in an apartment in Fulham, London, England on March 28.
- Mya Hall, a twenty-seven-year-old transgender woman from Baltimore, Maryland, was killed by police on Monday, March 30.
- London Chanel, a 21-year-old, died May 18 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after being fatally stabbed in the back and neck by Raheam Felton, who was the boyfriend of one of her roommates.
- Mercedes Williamson, a 17-year-old from Alabama was killed in George County, Mississippi, by Josh Vallum. Her body was found June 2 after Vallum told his father about the murder.
- Jasmine Collins was stabbed to death in Kansas City on June 23.
- Ashton O'Hara, 25 years old, was found murdered in a Detroit field on July 14.
- India Clarke, 25 years old, was found dead in a Tampa, Florida, park on July 21. She died due to blunt force trauma and her death is being investigated as a murder.
- K.C. Haggard, 66 years old, stabbed in the neck from a vehicle in Fresno, California, on July 23.
- Shade Schuler, 22-year-old woman of color, found in a field in Dallas, Texas, on July 29. There are no leads on the murder as Ms. Shade's body was so badly decomposed when found that it took two weeks to identify her.
- Amber Monroe, 20 years old, shot in Detroit, Michigan, on August 8. This was her third time being shot, but her fear of the police kept her from reporting other times.
- Kandis Capri, 35, was shot in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 11.
- Elisha Walker 's body was found in a shallow grave in Johnston County, North Carolina, on August 15. She had been reported missing a year before.
- Tamara Dominguez aged 36 of Kansas City, Missouri, was run over by an SUV truck multiple times on 16 August at 3am local time.
- Fernanda 'Coty' Olmos aged 59 of Santa Cruz, Argentina was found in her Alfonso home stabbed and shot to death on September 25, 2015. Area neighbors and media believe "the brutality of the murder suggests that this is a transphobic crime, a femicide against a transgender woman."
- Kiesha Jenkins, aged 22 of North Philadelphia, was beaten and shot by five to six men after getting out of a car. Jenkins was a student at Temple University after gradating from Benjamin Franklin High School. "In her spare time, [Jenkins] enjoyed drawing and designing tattoos for friends" and eventually hoped to become a graphic designer.
- Zella Ziona, aged 21 of Maryland, was shot to death on the 15th of October in Montgomery County. Ziona was a graduate Seneca Valley High School who was a "talented artist" who also worked as a caregiver in an assisted-living facility.
What about the rest of the world?
1,356 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Central and South America;
155 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Asia in 16 countries;
112 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in North America;
94 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Europe in 14 countries;
9 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Africa in 4 countries;
5 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Oceania in 4 countries.
Keep in mind the word "reported".
So, why do so many people commit hate crimes against transgender individuals?
- Hate is Easy
Sympathizing with transgender people is hard.
- Most people don't know a transgender person.
We look/sound different.
It's assumed to be a choice.
There's a lack of positive possibility models in the public eye.
Transgender people challenge deeply-held paradigms, and that makes people very uncomfortable.
Hating those who are different is an evolutionary advantage.
We're portrayed as a perversion.
It's socially acceptable.
But let's put the facts out there, here are 15 studies showing that being transgender is of biological origin, not environmental or societal:
1. "There is also evidence, albeit clinical, for a role of testosterone in the sexual differentiation of the human brain, in particular in inducing male gender role behavior and heterosexual orientation." - Julie Baker, Focus on Sexuality Research, 2014
2. "...We conclude that there is sufficient evidence that EDCs modify behavioral sexual dimorphism in children, presumably by interacting with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis." Winneke et al, Environmental health perspectives, 2013
3. "Gender-dependent differentiation of the brain has been detected at every level of organization--morphological, neurochemical, and functional--and has been shown to be primarily controlled by sex differences in gonadal steroid hormone levels during perinatal development." Chung and Wilson, European Journal of Physiology, 2013
4. "Gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender), sexual orientation (hetero-, homo-, or bisexuality), pedophilia, and the risks for neuropsychiatric disorders are programmed into our brain during early development. There is no proof that postnatal social environment has any crucial effect on gender identity or sexual orientation." Swaab and Bao, Neuroscience in the 21st century, 2013
5. "Testosterone, estrogen and dihydrotestosterone are the main steroid hormones responsible for the organization and sexual differentiation of brain structures during early development." Serkan Karaismailoğlu; Ayşen Erdem, Journal of the Turkish-German Gynecological Association, 2013
6. "In human males, we show that variation in fetal testosterone (FT) predicts later local gray matter volume of specific brain regions in a direction that is congruent with sexual dimorphism observed in a large independent sample of age-matched males and females from the NIH Pediatric MRI Data Repository." Lombardo, et al., The Journal of Neuroscience, 2012
7. "Testosterone measured in infancy predicts subsequent sex-typed behavior in boys and in girls." Lamminmäki, et al., Hormones and Behavior, 2012
8. "The finger length ratio between the second and fourth digits in transgender men was significantly lower than in female controls in the right hand in this study. 2D : 4D showed a positive correlation with GIS score. Because 2D : 4D influences are assumed to be established in early life and to reflect testosterone exposure, our results suggest a relationship between GID-FtM and perinatal testosterone." Sasaki, Tsukamotoa, and Horie, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012
9. "...growing evidence shows that testosterone exposure contributes similarly to the development of other human behaviors that show sex differences, including sexual orientation, core gender identity, and some, though not all, sex-related cognitive and personality characteristics." Hines, Annual review of neuroscience, 2011
10. "There is strong evidence that high concentrations of androgens lead to more male-typical behavior and that this also influences gender identity. "Jürgensen, et al., Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2010
11. "However, when the process of genital development and of brain sexual development does not match the same sex, females with a male brain and vice versa can arise. These transsexual people have problems with their gender identity and have the conviction of being born in the wrong body." Worrell, Master Thesis, Faculty of Medicine, Universiteit Utrecht, 2010
12. "In this study, more than 150 individuals with confirmed or suspected prenatal diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure reported moderate to severe feelings of gender dysphoria across the lifespan." Kerlin, Paper prepared for the International Behavioral Development Symposium, 2005
13. "Secondly, as predicted twin girls where one displayed gender dysphoria had a more masculine pattern of cerebral lateralization, than non-transgender girls. These findings support the notion of an influence of prenatal T on early brain organization in girls." Cohen-Bendahan; Buitelaar; van Goozen; and Cohen-Kettenis, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2004
14. "It thus appears conceivable that due to local hormone dependent changes during development at least some areas of the brain may follow a different course than the genitals during the process of sexual differentiation. A partial or even complete brain-body sex reversal may eventually be the result." Kruijver, Dissertation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Amsterdam, 2004
15. "Results support the notion that the gender identity is related to the sex steroid-driven sexual differentiation of the brain, and that certain genetic variants of three of the genes critically involved in this process, may enhance the susceptibility for transsexualism." Landén, Doctoral Thesis, University of Gothenburg, 1999
Now, before you leave, and I congratulate you for making this far, I ask one more thing of you..
Watch this video. All of it. Just do it. Please.
It was my inspiration for this article:
"American Reflexxx is a short film documenting a social experiment that took place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Director Alli Coates captured performance artist Signe Pierce as she strutted down a busy oceanside street in stripper garb and a reflective mask. The pair agreed not to communicate until the experiment was completed, but never anticipated the horror that would unfold in under an hour.
The result is a heart wrenching technicolor spectacle that raises questions about gender stereotypes, mob mentality, and violence in America."
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