These young people have shared their stories with us. We have a responsibility to respect these stories, to receive them with gratitude for they are an example of fierce generosity, to treat them with tenderness and compassion because learning to trust your own consciousness is to live life radically on your own terms.
Here’s a video clip in which a Trini mom explains that after observing changes in her nine year-old son’s behaviour she became worried that something was wrong. On attending a PTA meeting she heard teacher express concern about boys performing oral sex on each other at school. She then states (quite matter-of-factly, in my opinion) that only after she beat her son, to get him to talk, she explains, did he admit to having been raped and bullied at school. She suspected that he was being victimised and her last resort to get him to open up to her about that victimisation was to beat him, to use violence against him. Continue reading
CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network recently launched a Call to Action against homophobia & transphobia. We called on our communities to recognise everyone’s right to be, to condemn violence and celebrate life collectively on August 19.
CODE RED for gender justice! and Groundation Grenada used their social media platforms to distribute the call.
Here’s a report of some of the activities that took place:
Jamaica: Immediately after the murder of transgender teen, Dwayne “Gully Queen” Jones, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica held a popular action themed Everyone Has The RIght to Be in Emancipation Park (click for photos). They followed up that action with a a social media breakout entitled: “Action, Not Words”. In their press release, they had this to say about the event:
Our hope is that this event will instigate action on the part of our Governments with respect to acknowledging the human rights of this marginalized population and implementing further measures to protect them. We look forward to your active participation and implore you to engage others so that we might have a successful event with comprehensive commentary, which includes the voices and opinions of us all.
Grenada: The launch of the Gender Issue of Complexed Magazine coincided with the Call to Action. Groundation Grenada and Youth Advocacy Movement hosted a film screening of “Gun Hill Road”, featuring a Caribbean family living in the Bronx, New York. In the film, a hardened ex-con returns to his family and struggles to stay on the right side of the law as his overburdened wife guards a sensitive secret about their 16-year-old son, Michael. The film centers on Michael’s story as a transgender youth.
Guyana: Activists hosted a speak out/action event. Read reflections from Vidyaratha Kissoon and Sherlina Nageer. The event was also widely covered in the press with reports on the testimonies of persons living with disabilities, LGBT rights activists and families who had lost loved ones to violence:
Colleen Mc Ewan of the GuyBow organisation opened with a plea for personal action against violence of all forms. She made specific reference to the recent deaths of transgender individuals. Dellon Melville, whose body was discovered earlier this month in Mocha Village, three days after he went missing, was the most recent of such deaths.
Trinidad & Tobago: CARICOM Can Do It is a social media project started by Stephanie Leitch of WOMANTRA. It features photos of diverse Caribbean people showing off their national colours and using “the tagline “We Can Do It.” It is an attempt to lobby CARICOM governments to take a clear position on homophobic and transphobic violence. Contributors are asked to wear their flags as a head tie and pump their muscles for peace.” Check out this high impact popular action here and be sure to contribute!
CAISO also hosted a Dwayne Jones movie night which was well-attended.
Want to participate? It’s not too late. Organise a local event wherever you are, share the Call to Action, email us with details of your event and upload photos to the CatchAFyah Flickr pool.
Stay with us for details of other events in the region. A Belize event is upcoming. We’re still planning the Barbados event, email us at redforgender [at] gmail [dot] com if you want to be involved.
A 17 year-old trans woman was killed at a street dance in Jamaica. Allegedly after being outted as trans by another (non-trans) woman.
What is particularly troubling is that there appears to be a pattern of these anti-gay attacks being instigated by women. In yesterday’s incident, the news report indicates that the cross-dressing teen was outed when “a woman at the party recognised him and told persons at the party that he was not a female.” Jamaican women have also been documented as inciting homophobic mob attacks in Kingston and other parishes. These mobs have inflicted grievous bodily harm on numerous gay and cross-dressing men across the island.
He attributes women’s role in this violence to their competition with each other for the sexual attention of men:
There is a view within Jamaica and the Caribbean that some biological females feel threatened by trans females who are deemed to be competing for the already limited supply of suitable and available male partners. This leads some women to initiate an incident that a man must act upon, as his masculinity is threatened if he does not respond to the female’s cry to “do something.”
I’m not sure that I agree that the root of women’s transphobic and homophobic violence is competition for a scarcity of eligible men. I think that quite simply, women too are part of very homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic societies. Just being assigned female at birth does not grant you the kind of consciousness which respects everyone’s the right to be. It does not make you more aware of your own privilege. Neither does it mean that you question the taken-for-grantedness of normative gender relations, expectations and identities. We need to do more consciousness-raising work so that we stop oppressing and killing each other.
Maurice argues that women’s groups and LGBT rights groups need to collaborate more. I agree 100%.
What do you think? What accounts for non-trans women’s transphobic and homophobic violence?
What has been your experience with women’s organisations in the Caribbean? Have you found them to be largely trans and homophobic? Willfully ignorant of LGBT issues?
Edited to add: the term non-trans is used instead of cis or cisgender since neither of the latter two terms are used widely or understood in the Caribbean. In addition, people who are assigned female at birth may be sexed as female but not gendered as women due to (usually) racist understandings of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be human.
See also: We all failed Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) by Marcus Williams, LGBT Citizens are Comrades, Not Enemies by Groundation Grenada, A Hate Story: Reflections on the Death of Dwayne Jones by Annie Paul, Dressed for Murder by Carolyn Cooper and the CatchAFyah Caribbean Feminist Network’s Call to Action.