Wednesday, August 4, 2010

17-month-old Roy Jones brutally murdered for acting like a girl

Strong trigger warning for graphic description of abuse and murder.

A 17-month-old infant assigned male at birth, Roy Antonio Jones III, was killed by his mother’s boyfriend for acting too much like a girl.

Pedro Jones was babysitting Roy Jones (no biological relation) at the Shinecock Indian Reservation. When the less-than-two-year-old baby failed to fulfill his caretaker’s idea of what a less-than-two-year-old boy should act like, Pedro Jones began beating the infant with closed fists all over his body and then choking him. The child went into cardiac arrest, and later died at the hospital.

Pedro Jones has pled not guilty. He also admitted to abusing his victim in the past:
“I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl...I never struck that kid that hard before. A one-time mistake and I am going to do 20 years...

A tribe spokeswoman said the whole tribe is in mourning, but the child's grandfather said, "He infiltrated my family through our trust, through the heart of my daughter and then stole the life of her child. I hope the justice system turns around and steals his."
All human beings are expected to meet certain gender requirements based on their sex assignment at birth - from presentation to personality, expectations based on genitalia are cruelly enforced. Though everyone’s gender presentation and performance is policed and punished, these standards are applied with particular stringency and violence to trans folks.

Rather than being exempt from these unfair and unforgiving norms, children are especially targeted for rigid gender training, particularly children assigned male at birth like Roy. As Julia Serano has written, femininity is heavily discouraged and punished in MAAB folks; the worst thing a man or boy can be is like a woman or girl. This particularly nasty brand of cissexism is the frequent cause of abuse, in this case fatal abuse.

But this is not just about cissexism; it’s also about ageism and the violence infants and children face for being infants and children. Children who do not meet gender norms (according to whatever always-arbitrary standard imposed upon them) are particularly vulnerable to abusive behavior from adult caretakers.

The context of this child’s cultural history is also vital to understanding the conditions of this terrible tragedy. Native people have been massacred, devalued, and dehumanized by the forces of the United States government’s racism and violence. While violent abuse and death as manifestations of cissexism and ageism are far from unique to Native society, the genocide enacted by the kyriarchy on Native society is one factor in the abuse children like Roy suffer.

Monica wrote the following in covering Roy and Ronnie Paris’ murder at TransGriot:
Homophobia and transphobia feeds into these hypermasculine attitudes,and it has got to stop. We need to have some serious ongoing discussions about gender identity and gender roles in communities of color...We need to slay the hypermasculinity dragon in our community because it's killing our kids.
Roy Jones is the victim of an abusive, terrible man. But Pedro Jones did not act alone; he is an enforcer of the greater social forces of cissexism, ageism, and racism. Roy Antonio Jones III is a victim of the abuse of both his caretaker and the kyriarchy.


  1. A "one-time mistake"? Spilling a glass of water is a mistake... tripping over a rock is a mistake... murdering a baby because they aren't masculine enough for you?? Hardly a mistake! I can't believe some people, think that its completely fine to exercise their bigotry over others, to the point of murdering infants.

    I referenced your blog post here:

  2. Wow...I wish I could be shocked, but as a person with a mother who works as an expert in the field of pediatric traumatic abuse, I'm sadly jaded. All I can say is that this is horrifying.

    One part of me feels like he's trying to justify what he did with a trumped up excuse that it was a "mistake" and he was "just trying to make him stop acting like a little girl" as if others will somehow understand - and is even more angry at him because there's no justification for what happened.

    Another part is angry because of the more subtle, unspoken about, less fatal ways of reinforcing masculinity and femininity that I see on a daily basis (I see a lot of kids every day because I work in a retail store and before that, worked in a day camp for 5-10 year olds).

  3. That 'man' needs to die.

  4. Hey Arakiba - while this is a horrific, tragic, infuriating thing that happens far too frequently in this country -- and it's certainly understandable and even healthy to have all sorts of reactions -- on DP we really try to keep direct wishes/threats of violence out of the comments, no matter who it's about (eg, "I wish someone would punch Rush Limbaugh in the teeth" or "Someone needs to beat this guy to death"). Violence itself isn't something we want to advocate.

    I'm not taking down your comment because I know this was linked from a couple other sites, but I do want people to know that for the future.

  5. "A one-time mistake and I am going to do 20 years..."

    Absolutely chilling. He murdered a child and all he cares about is himself. Sick, vile creature. He had better spend the rest of his worthless life in jail.

  6. He won't last 20 years in prison... even in protective custody.

    Guards will never see a thing.

  7. Sorry if this is a duplicate comment. This is really horrible and shocking. I hope the justice system doesn't buy into the same cissexism, ageism and racism the murderer did. Am skeptical though.

  8. Just as a further notice, I'm seeing a lot of comments in the queue for this one with "I hope he dies", "he should kill himself" or other more subtle variations on the theme

    Hate speech and violence isn't tolerated in the comments at Deeply Problematic no matter how awful the person we're talking about is. That's the policy. Any comments of that nature are getting rejected.

    (@Astrid - I agree - on all counts.)

  9. Heartbreaking. This tragedy is a reminder that patriarchy has consequences! I can't believe that a little boy had to die because of someone else's violence and sexism.

  10. "A one-time mistake and I am going to do 20 years..."

    If this happened in Texas, he would've sentenced to Death for killing a Child under 7 instantly, Regardless of his gender. It is UNTHINKABLE for somebody to commit an inhumane atrocity against a cute little boy who can't help but think he's a girl. It's also sickening to see that the boys mother put her trust into Mr.Jones to take care of the boy without ever knowing Mr.Jones himself was abused also.

  11. The saddest thing to me is that as a 15-month-old, there is no way the poor kid had any concept of what gender is, anyway. Pedro Jones had to've had some deep, psychological problems... that's for sure.


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