Let’s start this week’s column with a piece of good news. The bad news is that violence and murder continues against transgendered people. But this week, one transgender woman has been granted asylum in the United States, thanks to the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
She had tried her best to make a living in baking, designing, sewing, and other jobs, but because of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in her country of Guatamala, she had turned to sex work. It was in this job where she was raped by the police, and threatened by the drug cartel. She feared for her life, especially after one of her transgender friends was killed by the drug cartel. SPLC worked with other agencies to get her out of Guatamala and granted asylum.
Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace No Longer Protected
Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General, issued a memo which rescinded a policy that had been enacted under the Obama administration, in which the Justice Department decreed that transgendered people were protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to BuzzFeed, “The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed Obama-era guidance that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes.”
The current administration continues to do everything in its power to erase any and all good enacted by President Obama. The rights of US citizens are being trampled in this drive to erase the prior administration’s good.
In point of fact, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans sex discrimination in the workplace based on sex. According to Vox, “if someone discriminates against a trans woman, that’s largely based on the expectation that a person designated male at birth should identify as a man — a belief built on an idea of what a person of a certain sex assigned at birth should be like.
“The Obama administration embraced this view of federal law. So have the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with taking up workplace discrimination complaints, and several federal courts. This was big, since there is no federal law explicitly prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender identity.
“But the issue has yet to be taken up by the Supreme Court. So there’s still room for legal interpretation — and President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has taken the anti-LGBTQ side.”
How long until they succeed in forcing out our transgender military people?
This article contains links to THREE agencies you can support to help secure transgender rights. They are the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the TransWomen of Color Collective, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
At What Age Does Sex Become Consensual? I Think NOT ELEVEN
In France, a young girl was groomed and enticed by a grown man into giving him oral sex and then sexual intercourse. She freaked out afterward because she was afraid her father would think she was a “slut.” The man was arrested, but he has NOT been charged with rape, but rather with sexual misadventure.
Read all about the case and the uproar it is causing in this op-ed piece at the New York Times.
Remember that Roman Polanski has avoided prosecution for raping a thirteen-year-old girl by fleeing to France and staying there. In France, “… as long as ‘violence, coercion, threat or surprise’ is not proven, sexual intercourse with a minor — even one under 15 — is considered an ‘atteinte sexuelle,’ which is an infraction and not a crime.” The case doesn’t go to a regular court, but to a “tribunal correctionnel” for infractions. The maximum sentence in such a case is five years in prison.
A consideration for France as to whether or not a case is rape, is whether there was violence, coercion, threat, or surprise. Most children and plenty of adults tend to freeze when they are being assaulted. They may not be “surprised,” in the way the courts mean, but they are not consenting in the manner of adults either.
The way France’s law stands, it could apply to children as young as six. Only children younger than six years old are better protected.
Fight this Hate
Look into the laws in your own state. In the US, the legal age of consent is between sixteen and eighteen, and varies by state. In Canada and the UK, legal age of consent is sixteen. In Mexico, it can be as young as twelve. The age of consent in Central American countries ranges from fourteen to eighteen.
Hate Crimes on the Rise
Hate crimes have increased by twenty percent so far in 2017. They increased nationally by five percent last year. If you suspected things have been much worse since the election of November 2016, you are supported in your beliefs by facts and numbers.
VOA News has been tracking and reporting hate crimes for years. Read the article here. According to VOA, “Hate-crime rises in large cities tend to far outpace increases nationally. Even if the current trend continues for the rest of the year, the overall increase in U.S. hate crimes is likely to remain in the single digits.
“Last year, he said, there were ‘profound spikes’ in hate crimes around the Nov. 8 elections. In New York City, for example, 34 percent of all hate crimes reported during 2016 occurred after the vote.”
Fight this Hate
Report hate crimes that happen to you or anyone you see. First, report any incident of hateful intimidation or harassment to your local law enforcement. Then, contact the Southern Poverty Law Center by completing a form on their website here. #ReportHate
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.