Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkish women attacked at third European Transgender Council; police harrass, degender victims

The logo of Transgender Europe. The graphic is a cog-like circular design in yellow, and the letters TGEU are in blue.
Two weeks ago, Transgender Europe held the third European Transgender Council in Malmo, Sweden. The Council hosted over 200 delegates from thirty-five countries, and it offered a number of worthwhile speakers, workshops, and other activities. But cissexism cast a shadow over this event when random transphobes attacked two Turkish delegates; police degendered and harrassed the targets rather than protecting them.

On the evening of September 30, the first night of the Council, the two women went to eat at a restaurant. As they entered the building, a couple of bystanders began yelling slurs at them. These two men invited several more passersby to join them. When the women emerged, they were attacked physically, with fists and eggs, by a crowd of men.

The attack was apparently motivated not only by cissexism but also by racism. Turkophobia runs high in Europe and has for hundreds of years.

After the incident was reported to the authorities, the police on duty did not do their job and seek out those responsible for the hate crime. Of course not. They further penalized these activists for their nationality and their gender by referring to them with incorrect pronouns, questioning their right to be in Sweden, and otherwise humiliating them. The delegates described their treatment as "".

The hosts of the conference are understandably enraged, though not surprised:
“There is no safe space for transgender people in Europe. Last night's attack showed once more that transphobia and racism are not only a problem of certain countries in Europe. Transphobia is everywhere”, says TGEU Vice chair Julia Ehrt.

“We express our solidarity with our activist friends. We are sad and angry and call upon the police to do everything to persecute the perpetrators,” says Dr Carsten Balzer from the “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” TvT- Research project..

The largest European Human rights event on transgender issues deals among other topics with hate crimes and violence faced by gender variant people. In the last 30 months 33 transgender people were reported of being murdered in Europe according to TGEU's TvT-project. 79% of trans people are subject to negative comments, harassment, physical and sexual abuse and violence according to the European Hate Crime Study published by Press for Change last year.

In the US, Public and police mistreatment of trans people, particularly trans women, is often egregious and violent. Duanna Johnson was killed brutally beaten at the hands of police, and countless women have been sexually assaulted by officers.

But such abuse is not limited to the shores of my homeland. Women around the world are hassled, violated, raped, and murdered, and that hatred is intensified if they are trans. When they are also a member of a marginalized nationality, they are even more vulnerable to the violent agents of the kyriarchy. And like many marginalized people, the police offer no recourse but instead another avenue of victimization. Organizations like Transgender Europe and the brave activists who populate them are vital to dismantling the global system of racism and cissupremacy that endorses and encourages such treatment.

sources 1, 2, 3


  1. Just a correction ... Duanna Johnson was brutally beaten by police while in custody, and her assailant was convicted. It's my understanding that her murder remains unsolved, and that no one has been charged in the case.

  2. Whoops, thanks Cara. Correction will be made shortly...

  3. Her murder remains "unsolved" only in the eyes of the police. When someone presses charges against the cops for brutality and then mysteriously ends up murdered three days before her trial it's hardly a leap of faith to assume the cops are responsible.


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