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Justice for Tenia! Stop the attacks on Black trans women!

Commentary by Regina Joseph |
August 22, 2018
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Tallahassee, FL — On August 20, in Missouri, Tenia Williams, a Black transgender woman, was stabbed and choked by a man she met online.

Tenia, who wrote about the attack on social media said, "Before providing my address he was well aware of me being transgender. This man never gave me any inclination that his intentions were to kill."

Tenia touched upon a deadly stereotype about trans women — that they are tricking men into sleeping with them.

The idea that trans women deserve to be harmed because they won't immediately reveal that they are transgender is absolutely wrong. This excuse is just another way to oppress women and shift the responsibility from abusers onto victims.

This has been infamously used in ‘trans panic defense’ cases. Which is defined by the National LGBT Bar Association as, "a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder."

For example, in 2013 African American woman Islan Nettles was beaten to death in New York City. The defendant, James Dixon, who had a history of fetishizing trans women, argued he murdered Islan because he was in a "blind fury” after finding out Nettles was transgender. Dixon was only sentenced to 12 years, a lenient sentence for murder.

Even in death, trans women face humiliation and degradation. They are frequently misgendered by the police and media.

In the state of Florida this year alone, four Black trans women have been killed, with the killers still on the loose. Three of those murders happened in Jacksonville. The man who stabbed, choked and beat Tenia was arrested in Missouri and charged with first-degree domestic violence with serious physical injury.

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