16 July 2009

Comments for Thursday A.M.

As of this writing, the trial of Dwight DeLee has gone to the jury for deliberations.

Laura Vogel of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TDLEF) has been posting thorough summaries of the testimony.  At the moment, I'm not inclined to discuss much other than pointing folks to the summaries, which describe in graphic and uncomfortable detail the events of November 14.  Here are links to TDLEF's summaries for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here are a couple of observations for future consideration:

In both the defense and the prosecution's closing statements, attorneys referred to Star using a male name (presumably her birth and/or legal name) followed by her name.  All attorneys used female pronouns in reference to her.

The defense attorney stated that on the evening of November 14, Lateisha Green [referred to using her birth name] was wearing nothing "that says this is a person a different sexual orientation."

Chief Assistant DA Doran reminded the jury that the hate crimes statute is written to include crimes based both on actual and perceived sexual orientation: "It's not about whether [Lateisha Green] was gay (we know he [sic] was)."

I need to let a certain amount of time pass before I write anything substantial, but I do want to make the observation that there is no reason why attorneys could not simultaneously respect Lateisha Green's identity while simultaneously seeking a hate crimes conviction on the basis of perceived sexual orientation.  The lack of nuance on the part of those who ridiculed Mark Cannon, Teish, and Star is neither inconsistent with the application of a hate crimes enhancement, nor is it justification to disrespect Lateisha Green's identity.

My perception is that the attorneys' decisions to refer to Lateisha Green as if she were a gay man is either strategic or related to their interpretation of their duties as professionals.  I find the whole situation infuriating, and at some point may make more pointed comments about the judge and attorneys, and a legal system imbued with cissexual privilege.  I want to challenge that privilege and those who perpetuate it, but I also am convinced that all parties involved were acting in a highly professional manner, and in a very respectful manner (within the context of that privilege).
Also, I want to voice my annoyance at seeing the local media refer to Lateisha Green as a transgender person or transgender individual.  These statements are true, but it offends me to see media outlets avoid referring to her as a woman, either through ignorance or otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Kate, use of the term "transgender person" or "transgender individual" is an attempt to delegitimatize trans identities and to make them less than cis- ones. I find it one step above referring to a "transgender lifestyle". And what pisses me even more is how often I hear this used by those in the gay/lesbian community.

    I often ask newspeople... say it was 1955, and you wrote a story about Marilyn Monroe... would you refer to her only as "Norma Jean Baker" because that was her legal name at that point in time?" Some media outlets writing about Teish's case were better than others. Not surprisingly, the AP writer was leagues better than Jim O'Hara, the Post-Standard crime writer who covered this trial the most. He was disrespectful and went out of his way to refer to her using male pronouns, how she sometimes dressed like a woman and only mentioned 'he' went by the name "Lateisha Green" (he even grossly misspelled her name in his last post!) Other Post-Standard writers were slightly better. Even after GLAAD had Donna Rose speak to the local media back in April, the coverage was all over the place.

    Only speaking for myself, if I thought the application of a sexual orientation hate crime in any way contributed to having Teish's identity as a woman stripped from her in court, then I would rather the hate crime attachment weren't used. I can't imagine a more horrific insult to her memory and very being. Nor was it worth that offense as a way of publicizing GENDA or federal hate crime statutes. This is about a young woman's life cut short and her family's loss... not a political campaign.