There is a lot of anger that has been expressed within the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community this past week. Let me explain:
The International Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR) came and went — the U.S. events memorialized one-hundred-nineteen who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice during this past year; the European events memorialized one-hundred-sixty-three. According to Ethan St. Pierre — the keyperson who collects the names of the dead for the event — the one-hundred-sixty-three number looks to be more accurate as weeding out duplicates, the final number looks to be one-hundred-sixty-one.
These events included reading the name of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, the young person who was horrifically murdered in Puerto Rico. The reason his name was included is the anti-transgender language the confessed killer framed Jorge’s killing in anti-transgender terms:
District Attorney Jose J. Bermudez says that in his confession, Martinez Matos said that he thought Lopez Mercado was a woman. The victim asked him for money and when he refused, Lopez Mercado pulled out a knife. When Martinez Matos realized that the teenager was actually male, he had a flashback to when he was raped in prison while he was serving a sentence for domestic violence. He then attacked Lopez Mercado, separating his arms from his torso.
This past weekend, I heard from a source who knew Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado personally that Jorge identified himself as gay, and actually was out and proud as gay. However, the death is being framed as due to anti-gay and anti-transgender by the confessed killer.
During a week where dozens of people killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice were memorialized, the only one who received separate vigil was Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado. Many of those who memorialized Jorge in this past week ignored the dozens of trans people killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice — for example, a Boston area friend noted to me that in Boston, few, if any, of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who showed up for the Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado vigil also showed up for the city’s International Transgender Day Of Remembrance event.
Many trans people are also taking issue especially with the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC’s) statement from their executive director on November 19th, as the statement didn’t mention how Puerto Rico’s hate crime law covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression when gender identity and expression may play a role in trying the confessed killer; the confessed killer who is apparently claiming a classic trans panic defense strategy.
So with permission, I’m crossposting this essay from Ethan St. Pierre. I’m posting it to give lesbian, gay, and bisexual community members a window into trans subcommunity anger at the broader LGBT community.
The angry trans people aren’t, for the most part, angry that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was memorialized in separate vigils this past week, but that many lesbian, gay, and bisexual community members of the broad LGBT memorized a person who apparently died for both anti-gay and anti-transgender hatred or prejudice, and yet didn’t also memorialize the dozens of other trans people who also died violent deaths due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice this past year when events to memorialize the victims of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
To quote Gwen Smith on TDOR:
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
The confessed killer claiming that the victim wore a blue dress, boots, and a wig is why he killed Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado. It’s not only in how the victim identified as gay that makes this an anti-LGBT crime, but in how the confessed killer identified his motivation for killing Jorge — The confessed killer blamed the victim for his brutal, violent death because of the victim’s alleged gender expression.
My Statement regarding the vigils on Sunday for Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado
By Ethan St. Pierre
Although I stand in solidarity and am deeply moved by the outrage and actions of the LGBT Puerto Rican community regarding the brutal murder of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, I feel the need to address those community members, outside of the Puerto Rican LGBT community who are not so respectful.
Since the Transgender community held our last transgender day of remembrance event on November 20, 2008 there have been 163 murders reported globally. That’s approximately 1 murder every 3 days of a person based on their gender identity or gender expression. They have all died, unspeakable, horrible deaths all at the hands of a killer. All because of the way they expressed their gender.
For the gay community to single out Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado and ignore the other 162 murders at a time when our transgender community and allies are coming together to express our sorrows and to recognize the losses we have endured over the past year is both insulting and sad.
I was hoping for a little more sensitivity and respect from all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Jorge was decapitated, dismembered and his/her body burned at the hands of a killer whose only defense is that Jorge was wearing woman’s clothing and he believed Jorge to be a woman.
Jorge may have been a gay man or may have been a transgender woman. Either way Jorge was clearly a victim of anti-transgender bias and Jorge paid for that gender expression with his/her life.
* 365Gay: Murder suspect thought Puerto Rico gay teen was a woman; UPDATE
* Associated Content: Hate Crime: Gay Puerto Rican Teen George Steven Lopez Mercado Brutally Killed
* Towleroad: Gay Puerto Rican Teen Decapitated, Dismembered, and Burned
* Towleroad: Suspect Arrested in Horrific Murder of Puerto Rican Gay Teen
* Towleroad: Puerto Rican Teen’s Killer Says Murder was ‘Gay Panic’, Self Defense