Murder, she wrote? Who cares!

I guess this comes under the heading of nit-picking. And i do know that to be a bad habit, getting me into all sorts of trouble and argument i don’t intend.

But still, some recent posting from Zoe Brain has my fingers twitching and my brain locked on to a subject that i fear may be just a tad over-egged within the UK trans community.

To wit, trans murder.

Which, before you all pitch in, is not me saying in the least that it doesn’t matter or we shouldn’t respond when a member of the UK trans community is murdered: rather, that its a bad measure and a bad focus for campaign within the UK…in much the same way that most homicide is a bad focus for policy-making.

Death on the roads

Let’s try and explain that. If you’ve ever tangled with the various arguments around speeding and whether or not “speed kills”, you’ll eventually end up discovering that the link is far looser than the advocates of speed cameras and the like would have us believe. That’s partly because the Department of Transport have wilfully ignored a statistical effect known as “regression to the mean” for some years.

Partly, too, because while there is a relatively good relationship between accidents and speed, the end outcome, whether someone dies or not as a result of speeding, is much more haphazard. Same speed, same circs, an inch different may make the difference between life and death.

There is a large “noise” component in figures for road death.

Death in the home

Ditto, actually, in respect of domestic murders which, a conference of UK judges suggested some years back, was frequently “little more” than “unlucky” domestic violence. And no: that’s not to belittle the seriousness of the actions.

Rather, it is to observe that the vast majority of UK murders do NOT involve a premeditated motive of the sort you will find in Morse or the pages of Agatha Christie. Rather, they are the result of people lashing out, in drink, in temper or in both.

Today, their victim gets a black eye for her troubles: tomorrow, falling awkwardly, hitting her head, she may never rise again. Death due to domestic violence is a headline-grabbing sort of statistic: but in a way, it hides the real obscenity, which is the violence itself.

For every single murder or homicide resulting from dv, there are tens, hundreds, thousands of blows struck, beatings handed out, lives ruined.

In the UK, the link between homicide and gender is possibly stronger than in the US. For a while, i wondered why, until i spoke with a US criminologist, who pointed out the levelling effect of handguns in the home.

In the UK, in conflict, it is usually the bigger, stronger (male) perpetrator who inflicts the greater damage: in the US, it depends to a degree on who gets to the bedside gun first.

Which is why i take issue with folks trying to equate the level of violent death experienced by the UK trans community with that in the US and elsewhere. Cause it ain’t the same, by a long chalk: and while i agree with the message of the Transgender Day of Remembrance; agree too that the level of violence regularly inflicted on the trans community is appalling and inexcusable, i am wary of simplification.

Focus on the many – not just the few

I picked up on this while reading Zoe’s intervention in discussion about an alleged perpetrator found not guilty of the murder of a trans woman in Newark. I don’t know whether the accused was guilty or not.

What i do know, what i find deeply disturbing is the way in which commenters keep going back to some version of “she asked for it”. To be murdered?

Nah. I’m sure if you asked them individually, most would say not. Still, there is a strong under-current of acceptability to the idea that if a trans woman “comes on to you” or indeed, if a trans woman “deceives” you, its perfectly acceptable to hit her, to lash out in…self-defence?


I don’t get it. I really don’t. But at the end of the day, that is the culture that needs to be fought and eradicated…not some presumed conspiracy to murder trans men and women.

Because absent psycho killers, the number of folk out there who think it a “good thing” to murder trans peeps is, i’d suggest, relatively small: whereas the number who seem capable of justifying giving trans folk a “good” beating is far too large.

And while focussing on murder may make for nice rhetorical flourish, i can’t help feeling it lets far too many off the hook.

EVERY person who lashes out in transphobic anger is a potential murderer. Letting them off the hook – almost, treating their bigotry as a lesser offence – while focussing on the handful who actually do kill seems to miss the point entirely.

Its the culture and the majority that need to change.

jane xx

1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    February 21, 2012 AP, Reuters, Examiner NewsThe Trans Panthers Party for Self Defense on an international level, is officially condemning the UK’s Paddy Power Publishing company, BSkyB broadcasting, Channel 4 sports broadcasting for airing and refusing to retract a highly transphobic TV ad that can lead to violence including murder of transwomen.Link: Megan Knowles, Global Media Liaison for the Trans Panthers states: “In the ad which is showing during significant televised soccer matches in the UK, a narrator tells people to ‘spot the stallions from the mares’ ” This is an ad which serves to target, segregate and humiliate women who have a very valid identity recognized socially and by the government of the UK.” “This only serves to encourage violence against a minority who try to just peacefully live their lives as who they really are”.The Trans Panthers Party – International is filing to have the aforementioned offending UK companies listed and widely publicized as among those organizations who propagate and commit human rights crimes against humanity in international courts including the Haague in the Netherlands.

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