NATIONAL– In the wake of two attacks on trans women, at opposite sides of the globe, but both results of class, race and gender oppressions and discrimination, it is time to recognize the intersectionality of oppressions under Capitalism and class society and work to dismantle them.
On October 12th, a Native American trans woman was beaten unconscious by four men in a Brooklyn, NY, street, to the accompaniment of racist and sexist slurs. The 28-year-old victim is in critical condition and doctors still do not know if she will suffer permanent brain damage. She was a client of the non-profit New Alternatives for Homeless LGBTQ Youth. The victim’s name has not been released.
On practically the same day, Jennifer Laude, 26, had her head shoved into a toilet bowl and was drowned allegedly by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, in a motel room in Olongapo, Philippines. She had injuries on her body that indicate she was beaten before the drowning. The marine is in the archipelago as part of 3,500 men engaged in joint military exercises. He comes from Massachusetts, a US state with stringent laws on violence against the transgendered – laws indicative of the enduring discrimination against them.
AF3IRM recognizes that this arc of violence spanning the globe is rooted in Capital’s maintenance of intertwining systems of oppression to maximize corporate profits and remake the entire world into its image. The US has been involved in conflict, in varying degrees, in 73 countries. Women, especially trans women, bear the brunt of this oppression. This is an epidemic. This year alone, in a report of violence against 102 trans people, reported from 14 countries worldwide, “36 persons were shot multiple times, 14 stabbed multiple times, 11 were beaten to death, three were burned to death, three dismembered/mutilated, and two were tortured, two were strangled, one was hanged, one had her throat cut and one was stoned to death.”
AF3IRM takes a firm stand against intersectional violence which continues to afflict the under-class and the exploited in the home base of US imperialism itself. It recognizes the export of such violence, done through the US military and US corporations, to countries and regions which had lived peaceably in the diversity of their populations, beliefs and cultures. AF3IRM calls for an end to this unconscionable export of intersectional violence abroad. AF3IRM calls for a dismantling of the apparatus of intersectional violence, indeed of all violence, in the United States itself, to disassemble the structures of inequality of class, race and gender.
The bedrock cultures of both the Brooklyn and Olongapo victims recognize the humanity of both trans women. It is imperialism that undoes this respect. Native American culture accepts the concept of “twin-souls” or “two spirits” in a person while Philippine native culture recognizes four genders. The culture descended from white European societies has been hostile to these concepts, based as it is on private property which was built on the oppression of women. Because of genocide against the native populations of North America, Capitalism has managed to build itself untrammeled on this land. The Philippines, on the hand, is in the twin-grip of imperialism and an archaic patriarchal religious belief system codified in Europe, both of which impose gender normative standards on colonized peoples.
As transnational women residing in the US, we are appalled and outraged by this utmost and continuing disrespect for those who are our sisters. According to a report released in 2011, K-12 students who identified as transgender or gender non-conforming experienced a high rate of 78% in terms of harassment. Overall, trans students of color and transwomen reported even higher rates of physical assault and sexual violence than other transgender people. This is also mirrored by the higher rates of sexual and physical assault faced by adult transgender women of color in prison. Additionally, 22% of transwomen experienced family violence and they face higher rates of being denied access to shelters. It is clear that the discrimination, harassment, and violence faced by transgender individuals have contributed to transwomen’s high lifetime suicide attempt rate of 42%.
We view this pernicious discrimination and violence against trans women as part of the spectrum of violence against women; we view these attacks as contempt for our indigenous and native cultures; we view these attacks as manifestations of the violence coiled at the heart of intersecting oppressions.
The Brooklyn assault was but the latest in a series of attacks on trans women. A 33-year-old was beaten with a hammer; a 22-year-old was shot. Recounting her experience, the 22-year-old said, “Two years ago, I got jumped. Four months ago, I got stabbed. Two months later, I got shot.”
The murder in the Philippines, on the other hand, is but the latest in a long list of sexual crimes and violence against the people of the archipelago, whose government seems institutionally ill-equipped to deal with crimes committed by foreigners. We recall the rape of Nicole and our campaign as GabNet for justice for her – a quest frustrated by the Philippine justice system itself. We recall other instances where the strength of imperialism’s control over client-states and the US military’s insistence on its own privileges – of being criminal, prosecutor and judge all at once– echoes the privileges of the ruling class in the US itself. We recall how, of 4,700 crimes against the people of Okinawa by US troops, only seven have been prosecuted.
It is ironic – and we hope everyone appreciates the irony – that we must now demand the protection of the people of the Philippines from violence perpetrated by the US military, which ostensibly and allegedly is in the region to protect them. But demand it, we must, at the minimum: that all US military personnel be limited and segregated to a fenced-off area, away from civilian centers – to avoid their exporting upon a hapless population the intersectional violence of US base culture. Strategically, we ask that the US stop its interventions in the Philippines and elsewhere — militarily, politically, economically — in recognition of the chaos it has left in its wake in various regions of the world.
We ask our sisters in the US to continue our struggle against the intertwined systems of oppression, to dismantle classism, racism and sexism, to persevere in our quest for a holistic worldview that takes cognizance and gives due importance to the world of women, so we may reverse that which has been called “the historic defeat of womankind.” Only by the defeat of that defeat can a truly new world of equality come to being.
End All Systems of Oppression!
Violence Against Transwomen is Violence Against Women!
Break the Arc of Violence: from Brooklyn to Olongapo!
Abrogate All SOFAs, All VFAs!
A Woman’s Place is at Head of the Struggle for the Liberation of Humanity!