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Dec 20, 2012
By now, we have all heard of the terrible tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in which 20 young children and six adults were assassinated by a young person carrying an assault weapon. So, why am I mentioning this here? It’s because issues relating to gun control are relevant to me as an LGBT individual, and I feel that this tragedy is a catalyst for talking about our laissez-faire gun laws and the cisgender straight male privilege of the NRA.
Gun violence is everyone’s issue, but as an LGBT individual, we are disproportionately victims of this scourge. This is especially true for the transgender community, especially us transwomen. Just a little over a month ago, people all over the world read the names of transgender people whom have been murdered over the past year as part of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and some of their deaths (including that of Kyra Cordova, the most recent transgender murder victim in Philadelphia) had been facilitated by gun ownership.
To me, the world is a dangerous place. There are way too many people who have an animus towards me as a transgender person, and want to commit violent acts against me when they see me. Just imagine if those people had guns, and they are way too easy to get, they could take me away from you all. Furthermore, there are people out there who spread toxic hatred towards us, and this may drive some psychopath to get an assault weapon and, under an often autonomous banner, mow us down at a gathering. This hasn’t happened yet in the United States, but I don’t want there to be a first time.
People tell us that we should instead purchase firearms to defend ourselves, but the statements of pro-second amendment individuals come from a place of privilege. A few months ago, I blogged about the plight of CeCe McDonald, a black transgender woman who is now serving several years in a Minnesota prison for defending herself against a Neo-Nazi (although there were no guns involved in the case, the idea that transgender people can’t defend themselves without risking incarceration is still there). So called “stand your ground” defenses do not seem to apply to people who are NOT white, middle-class, cisgender, straight males. Not only does the court system have an animus towards transgender people, but upon a likely conviction, the correctional authorities are going to have a field day either perpetrating or allowing sexual assault happen to some of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged women, who will likely not even be put in the right gender setting. It is damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation, and prison is probably worse on a transgender individual than anyone else.
There have been many organizations not necessarily directly relating to the issue of unfettered guns who have built coalitions to call for greater gun control.
From the Huffington Post:
Statistics show that gun violence disproportionately affects women. While women only account for about 10 percent of gun-related deaths in the U.S. each year, they make up less than one percent of gun buyers and users, according to the International Action Network on Small Arms. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted before the Newtown, Conn., massacre shows that 60 percent of women support stricter gun control laws, compared to 41 percent of men.
The Newtown shooting also had a domestic violence aspect to it that particularly hits home with women’s advocacy groups. The shooter, Adam Lanza, shot his mother in her home with a gun that was kept in the house.
The American Journal of Public Health found in 2003 that femicides, or intimate partner homicides, are five times more likely in homes where there is access to a firearm.
O’Neill said that her organization is reaching out to the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence to join forces on the cause, even though she doesn’t believe that access to guns is to blame for these mass shootings. “It’s the mental illness that’s the problem,” she said. “Our pop culture is just astonishingly violent, and that needs to change. But the low-hanging fruit here is machine guns, for God’s sake, so you go after that first. They call them semi-automatic, but let’s be clear — they’re machine guns. It’s like Chicago in the 1920s.”
While NOW is using the feminist angle to galvanize its female members, other women’s groups are simply tackling the gun control issue straight on. Ultraviolet, a women’s rights group that fights sexism in politics and the media, circulated a gun control petition on Monday that makes no mention of women or gender.
There also is a disturbing image, linked above, which points to our society’s obsession with masculinity. I have posted to Equality Pennsylvania’s facebook wall that gun control is, indeed, an LGBT issue, but have not received a response. Here in Philadelphia, we have a large transgender population and a frequent animus towards us, yet, unlike New York City, the city of Philadelphia is not allowed, by Pennsylvania law, to pre-empt the weak sauce gun control laws statewide. Many lives, especially those who are vulnerable to violence, could be saved if we regulated long guns and handguns like cars and banned assault weapons altogether.
Gun violence is everybody’s issue, but like women and persons of color, LGBandespeciallyT people are heavily impacted by gun violence, and those whose work is centered around issues of gun violence and gun control should make room for us, because we are at risk every day. I, for one, cannot wait to get out of this state.
-Jordan Gwendolyn DavisCategories: LGBT Health and Rights, Other, Racism, Sexual Violence, Social Justice and Human Rights, Transgender Issues