The Cutting Edge - March 2015
Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW
An article in the Pink News covers the controversy over B-52’s lead singer, Katie Pierson’s release of a song, “Mister Sister.” Trans activists complain that they feel “misunderstood and patronized.” The song appears on Pierson’s album, “Guitars and Microphones,” and was released in February. In a letter to the Huffington Post a fan said, “misgendering is always wrong. ‘Mister Sister,’ beginning with the title itself, is a reminder of the constant water-torture drip that transpeople endure day in and day out when we’re addressed as the wrong gender.” Pierson defends her song saying it was meant to be about “the power of transformation and the joy of being accepted as you are, but more importantly, the joy of self-acceptance.” You can watch the video on www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/02/18/b-52s-lead singer......and decide for yourself.
On August 17, 2013, transwoman, Islan Nettles, 21, was walking down a New York City street with 2 transfriends. She was allegedly taunted with gay slurs by a group of 7 young men after which one beat her so violently that she died without regaining consciousness. One of the group was arrested and despite his protestations of innocence in the killing, and the fact that another of the group admitted guilt, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office took 1 ½ years to build a case against the admitted killer! On March 3, 2015 the case against him was eventually presented to a grand jury which indicted James Dixon on charges of manslaughter and assault. He was not charged with murder as proof of intent would need to be proved. Despite evidence of gay slurs, no charges of a hate crime were entered either. Such a charge would have required the prosecution to prove that the motive of the crime was that the victim was transgender. The handling of this case so incensed the trans community that an advocacy group, the Trans Women of Color Collective, was formed. One of its purposes is to highlight the “indifference the authorities show across the country to the killings of men transitioning to women.” Lourdes Hunter, the director of the organization said, “the long delay in bringing charges against Mr. Dixon reflected the low priority such cases have among the police and prosecutors.” New York Times March 4, 2015
Closer to home, Taja DeJesus was killed on Feb 1, 2015 in the Bayview district of San Francisco. Her killer was found dead by his own hand the next day. In the face of 6 transgender deaths in the year 2014, her death has galvanized the trans community to start the Indiegogo fundraising campaign to aid her family with funeral costs. Funds raised over and above the family’s needs will be used to help trans women of color. SF Examiner, March 4, 2015.
A feature story in the New York Times’ Style section of the Sunday edition of March 6, “Better Late than Never,” focuses on (guess what?) “late transitioners.” The article recounts the varied stories of 7 individuals, 2 of whom hail from the Bay Area. They’ve all taken the plunge late in life, one at 85 years of age. And it seems that no one holds anything back-- from discussing the difference between having sex with a man versus a woman, to the itemized cost of facial feminization,--transpeople of a certain age tell all. Professionals of course, were consulted for the article, including a Social Work professor who wrote her doctoral dissertation on “late-age transitioners.” You may want to check out her website www.tosurviveonthisshore.com and consider participating in the project if you are over 50 years of age and identify as gender variant.