Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Call Me Malcolm" at UCC

Tonight was the second class at United Christian Church where we're studying transgender issues and faith by watching and discussing the film, "Call Me Malcolm".

Tonight's discussion was focused on gender expression and hate crimes. We watched the segment of the film in which Malcolm visits with Pauline Martinez, a mother of hate crime victim F.C Martinez and discussed some grim statistics.

In 2009, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs there were "2,181 victims and survivors of hate violence". Of those, gender identity was known for 1,983. Transgender women accounted for "11% of those reporting". More concerning is the fact that 50% of these women were murdered. Of the 22 hate-related murders in 2009, 11 were transwomen. The other "11 cases were non-transgender males; most were also gender non-conforming or dressed femininely at the time of their murder." Read that last statement again. While 11 of these murders were of self-identified transgendered individuals, most of the other 11 victims were seen as being gender non-conforming. Indeed statistics from the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition indicate "that those most at risk for hate murder are young gender non-conforming or transgender people of color who present femininely or identify as female". Simply put, being a young trans or non-conforming person of color means you're automatically entered in a high risk group just by being yourself.

This confluence of prejudices is terrifying. This year is no exception with 12 murders on record and a month to go before the next day of remembrance.

These grim statistics, taken with the current high profile LGBT suicides, make me believe an argument can be made for a direct connection between between bullying behaviors and hate crimes. That indeed, bullying is a hate crime. NCAVP defines it this way (emphasis mine):
Anti-LGBTQ hate violence is defined as any act that an offender commits against a person or a person's property because of the offender's bias towards or hatred for that person's actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.
Hate-motivated violence exists across a spectrum of escalation and severity. A single incident may involve various types of violence. This is especially true of anti-LGBTQ hate violence. Verbal attacks, sexual assault, workplace discrimination, intimate partner abuse and beatings can all be motivated by hatred for an LGBTQ identity .
Confronting bullying is the first step in confronting LGBT hate crimes. If we allow our youth to act without consequence and continue to bully those they define as "other" then we set the stage for later escalation. It's time that we as a species agreed that it is time to grow up and stop the "kids will be kids" excuse for this kind of behavior.

As a Christian, I especially need to stand up against bullying and hate crimes and let the Austin-area LGBT community know that they are welcome at UCC. 


Nance said...

A worthy goal and a worthy post! I agree with you that the bullying of young LGBT's is best labeled a hate crime and I would like to see public schools formally educate students to that effect.

I think there is a significant message being sent by the military's acceptance of gay recruits; if the Marines can handle it, the kids can be taught to handle it, too.

Ahab said...

Anyone who stands up for victims of bullying and discrimination is admirable. Thank you for giving this issue attention.