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...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.
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."
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.