Thursday, April 23, 2009

a bit of controversy....

I confess that...I'm torn on this one...and feel a bit of liberal guilt about my viewpoint...

There's a recent case that involved the murder of a transgendered individual (this person self-identified as a woman so I will use female pronouns). They successfully prosecuted the murderer, including charges under a hate crimes statute (see http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/04/22/transgender.slaying.trial/index.html).

I find murder atrocious. And I feel for this woman, the struggles her life must have included, and the tragic early end to her time. I absolutely believe her murderer should face punishment. Should she have told him her biological identity? Maybe...I'd almost lean towards yes. Does not telling justify murder? Of course not. He absolutely could have chosen to end the relationship...and even been pretty angry about it. He might have been upset but that gives him no right to kill her. I agree it was (assuming facts as I've seen them) first-degree murder.

But, is this a hate crime? I'm just not sure. The man who killed her was angry at her as an individual, he wasn't seeking out a transgendered person to kill in some sort of statement or act of group hate. It isn't a precise corollary to a KKK member attacking a person on the street for the color of their skin. He was mad at this woman, yes his anger involved her sexual identity but I think it was more about his feeling of deception and of having gotten into a situation he did not expect rather than an act against transgendered individuals. If he'd gone to a rally of transgendered folks to seek out and kill someone as some sort of statement or from some sort of personal vendetta against transgendered individuals THEN I'd totally favor the hate crime label.

There's a little liberal voice in me that WANTS this to be a hate crime. I want to say she was murdered because she was transgendered. And she was. But I just can't make the leap to it being a hate crime as I see that term....hate crimes laws should apply to the RIGHT cases involving sexual identity and sexuality (and I guess wanting to see them applied is why I feel torn), but I'm not sure this is that right case.

I'm waiting on the backlash to this post....

1 comment:

Freckles said...

I have been thinking about this post a lot this week. The part that stood out to me the most was:

There's a little liberal voice in me that WANTS this to be a hate crime. I want to say she was murdered because she was transgendered.

I WANT to believe it was a hate crime but most of me cannot and somehow I feel bad about that.