Gender, sexuality, violence, and intersectionality

A particular confluence of 'truths' about the body, gender identity, and sexuality erupts in transgender violence. Such violence largely derives from dehumanization: individuals whose gender cannot be classified according to the parameters of binary sexual difference are often regarded as inhuman. Yet gender dynamics are by no means irrelevant to transgender violence. The fact that Brandon Teena was a biological woman matters; he was not murdered solely on the basis of transgender identity. Violence against FTM transgendered individuals depends on particular expectations about the limits of the female body, identity and sexuality. Consequently, a failure to incorporate transgender concerns into broader feminist efforts to address sexual violence would deny the specific and particularly brutal patterns of abuse to which women's bodies are subjected through acts of violence and domination. [47]

To ensure the visibility of transgender violence within feminist politics, we need to couple feminist efforts to increase legal recourse for victims of sex crimes with an awareness of the specific manifestations and implications of gender-based hate crimes. In 1994, the Justice Department reported 5,852 bias-motivated incidents under the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, ranging from verbal harassment to murder. Of these occurrences, 780 were motivated by homophobia. As Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign, testified before the Senate, "Hate crimes against lesbian and gay people and other communities continue to be a national epidemic." [48] Furthermore, the widespread problem of underreporting sex-based crimes impedes the collection of accurate data. A feminist commitment to increasing the visibility of hate crimes would constitute a vital attempt "to expand the very meaning of what counts as a valued and valuable body in the world," [49] and, conversely, an important challenge to mainstream assessments of sexual abjection and deviance.