Fight this Hate shows a small selection of hate crimes and/or harassment that has taken place recently in the United States. Southern Poverty Law Center keeps detailed accounts of hate crimes. Colorlines tracks all manner of topics related to race and publishes them daily. The following incidents are only a small sample, and each includes a form of direct action.
Trans Kids in Danger
A few months ago President Obama enacted protections for transgender kids in public schools, allowing them to use the restrooms best aligned with their gender identity. Parents of transgender kids in the US breathed a sigh of relief. Restrooms can be dangerous places, but not for the reasons transphobic people believe. States like North Carolina tried to enact “bathroom bills” because they feared “men in dresses” would assault their women and girls.
That fear causes problems for androgynous-looking or butch-looking women everywhere. Women who are mistaken for men are subjected to abuse, ejected from restrooms, even beaten by those who are afraid.
Fear puts trans kids in serious danger of being bullied by other students, teachers, parents, and others. And now, President Trump has rescinded the protection. There were high hopes for a case centered around 17-year-old Gavin Grimm’s fight to use the boy’s restroom at his Virginia public school which was to be heard by the US Supreme Court. But SCOTUS has now sent the case back to a lower court due to the protection having been rescinded.
Study after study documents that trans kids are bullied more than others. A study from MAP, a think tank that researches LGBT issues, paints a disconcerting portrait of the LGBT community’s battle for equality at the state level and highlights a glaring deficit of legal protections for those who are transgender.
Twenty-three of the fifty states have more laws on the books that harm rather than help transgender people.
The main takeaway from the report on 2016 laws is how little transgender people are protected, and the breadth of the challenges they face.
A report released by Human Right Watch details a range of problems faced by LGBTQ kids all across the United States. “Too many US schools are hostile environments for LGBT kids, and not only because they can’t use the appropriate bathrooms or locker room,” said Ryan Thoreson, a fellow in the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “In every state we visited, we heard stories of students who were insulted, cyber-bullied or attacked, and teachers who allowed discrimination and harassment because they see it as normal behavior.”
It is our job as adults to protect all the children. Trans kids are under attack and we must do what we can for them. From James Michael Nichols, writing in Huffington Post, comes this advice: “So what can you do? It starts with education. If you have questions about transgender identity, intersex identity, or children who fall across the spectrum of gender identity, Katie Couric just produced an amazing documentary called “Gender Revolution” that provides an accessible and comprehensive look at evolving cultural understandings of gender, as well as the way gender shapes all our lives and experiences ― especially in the worlds of children and teens.”
Read the studies, share them widely. Support TransLifeline. Donate to ACLU. And if you know a brave trans kid who is figuring this problem out on their own, let them know you support them, and consider pitching in. One such kid faked a head injury in order to continue using the right bathroom. [Note that we at ROAR are recommending this particular solution.]
White People Escaping Punishment
In Idaho, there was an egregious case of a 19-year-old white man who was accused of kicking a coat hanger into the rectum of a mentally disabled black teammate. The white man received zero jail time at his sentencing. John R. K. Howard entered an “Alford plea,” meaning he maintains his innocence while admitting a judge or jury would likely find him guilty. He was sentenced to probation and community service, and his conviction might be entirely dismissed at a later date.
We are already aware of the discrepancy in the cases of Nate Parker and Casey Affleck, two men whose films were raved about at Sundance, and who were each accused of sexual misconduct. Nate Parker, who is black, and whose case was covered extensively, quickly fell out of favor with Hollywood. Meanwhile, we barely heard about the accusations against Affleck, who is white, and who went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. You can read more about this particular discrepancy here.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.