Thursday, January 31, 2013

VIDEO: Transgender Marylanders Describe Hate Crimes & Discrimination // WAKE UP TO YOUR ROLE IN THE PROBLEM

Yesterday Maryland Juice noted that over twenty State Senators introduced a bill to prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals. To bolster the effort today, a number of transgender Maryland residents released a video describing the shameful, violent and inhumane treatment they are prone to receiving from members of our community.

But before I present their courageous statements, I wanted to pause and lament once again that we are even having a debate over this non-discrimination law. I admit that I should be excited to see that this common-sense bill may finally be signed into law, but I can't help but feel sad and angry that we are having to cyclically prove the worth of some group of humans to the rest of society. Indeed, I won't hold my breath for State Senator Norm Stone to get behind this effort, given that he represents the worst example of the kind of hateful policymaking I am talking about -- and he's a Democrat! As you are likely aware by now, Sen. Norm Stone previously voted against interracial marriage in Maryland and has since then continued voting against individual liberty and human rights. What a POS.

GET OVER YOURSELF: I get very tired of humanity's hateful impulses sometimes. Too many people seem to think they have some right to not be offended by the sight or lifestyles of other people -- even if they are not actually being affected by the people they are seemingly obsessed with. The law should not exist to give rise to personal discrimination or to protect people from the unrealized paranoia of their own views.  To be fair, the history of the United States (including today) is rife with examples where we have allowed our laws to become instruments of illogic. But over time members of the advocacy community often succeed in pointing out and correcting the injustices we as a society often create. The question I have is why the other members of society constantly force us to wage decades-long struggles in order to achieve policy results that are simply humane? Get over yourself.

LEAVE THE HOUSE MORE OFTEN: In particular, the resistance to anti-discrimination laws protecting transgender individuals makes me wish people in the United States would travel more. Every time I leave the country, I'm struck by the simple observation that ordinary people in every nation appear to want the same things we do (eg: good health, employment, security for their loved ones, etc), and they laugh, cry and fear things just as we in the U.S. do. But every once in a while when I leave the country, I am also struck by how the things that pass as "normal" in other societies can be so wildly different than at home. In particular, after a couple recent swings through Southeast Asia, I was astonished to see a decent number of transgender individuals going out about their lives and working without drama in various retail establishments. Guess what? The sky is not falling in those countries. I'm also tempted to point out that at least some of the victims of discrimination in the United States may have biological factors pushing their gender identity -- but that really seems besides the point.

FAIRNESS FOR ALL ACT OF 2013: The summary for the transgender anti-discrimination law currently moving in the Maryland Senate states the following goals:
BILL SUMMARY: Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity with regard to public accommodations, housing, and employment and by specified licensed or regulated persons; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity with regard to commercial leasing; altering an exception for employers relating to standards concerning dress and grooming; providing specified immunity; requiring State personnel actions to be made without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation; defining the term "gender identity"; etc.

TRANSGENDER MARYLAND RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT: A handful of brave transgender Marylanders produced the video below to explain their circumstances and support this bill:

SHOCKING REMINDERS: Lest you think the claims from these residents are exaggerated, let me provide you with some recent video exhibits to make the case.  WARNING: these videos are unpleasant:

APRIL 2011: Rosedale, Maryland Transgender Attack at McDonald's

FEBRUARY 2008: Memphis Cop Beats Up Transsexual Under Custody

AN INDIGNANT RESPONSE: The Memphis police beating led a number of people to post response videos on YouTube, and I appreciate the indignation expressed by this gentleman (Note: the video contains cursing, if that sort of thing bothers you):

One relieving aspect to these hate crimes is that communities tend to rally around the victims. Even still, the common nature of violent hate crimes against transgender residents leads me to wonder to what extent our collective (unwarranted) fears lay the groundwork for these assaults. Here's to hoping that Maryland passes the "Fairness for All Act."

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