poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Dear . . . .,

any ways... I am writing you because there is really no one else at this point, and also, just so you know, its not like an elimination process, but I look at the list in my mind and your it....

first, I am sure you heard or read about the Qwen Araujo mistrial.... I was in shock, literally; and after living through the repulsion of an entire hearing as the defense repeated its strategy of sexual fraud as a justification for killing . . . sexual fraud? . .. I can not tell you the number of times I felt sexual fraud from some straight person . . . I wonder what would have happen if I murdered one of Them.. .. but, I guess in some minds sexual fraud is a good enough reason to kill a beautiful 17 year old trans-female, doing what teens do. and as a historical reference, which I am sure you all ready know.. it makes sense in the fact that it's ok to murder someone just because you do not get enough fiber, and eat too many twinkies.. we have heard it before . . . .

and at this point I must say shock and repulsion are only words that drift away after a time, they do not settle on the body or in the body. words that have no meaning, as I would sit and read the trial transcripts of the beating of Qwen, pleadng for hir life, begging for them let hir go.. how they smashed hir head into the wall enough to put a hole in the wall, how they kicked hir and strangled hir, and then to make sure Qwen was dead, bashed hir head in with a shovel... words even now have no meaning for my body to bear the weight of that.. after that words mean nothing . . .

and I on top of that . . . or should I say as a base, we are living in times of low or maybe high fascism, where instead of using the Jews to draw one's attention away from the troubles at hand; this fascist unelected president has pointed to queers, and in a sense is using the queer defense (sexual fraud) like they did at the Qwen trial.. creating fear and hysteria . . . around the sacred production of marriage . . . so, I guess in this day and age in amika, the land of the holy dollar you can no longer get away with slaughtering millions in the home land, but make them second class citizen, and strip of their dignity - esspecially queers, rights? .. and in the mean time carry on egregious acts of empiricism and war; all the while, splitting the television image, thus splitting the activism, thus spitting the holy dollar and the straights against the queers, the haves against the have nots...

and so, I do not mean to go on and on.. but that is not why I write you.. it is just a base, and introduction per say..

so when the mistrial was announced, after I had listen to the horrendous beating this poor child received, repeated day after day... I attended a rally last night and heard Sylvia Guerrero, Qwen's mother call Qwen her daughter, and promised to do what ever she could do so this would not happen to another trans person, and promised to be at the trans march here in SF friday; I knew there was someone who got it, got the pain and suffering trans folks go through. . .

and that is why I write you now.... as I trembled in fear listening to the hearings; those horrible acts done to this child, my body was assaulted; when I heard there had been a mistrial, I was aware as a trans person my life had little or no meaning in this world.. and when I heard one more time of another murder; the 30th time in my (transitioned) life (going back to the first trans murder I remember - not how many have actually been murdered, but the ones I knew of). when I saw that beautiful face and imagined what Qwen went through.. it beat my soul into darkness, it tore at my flesh, it assaulted my will to live...

and that is not why I write to you for you hear my pain; and I do not write you to let you know few if any gays and lesbians where at the the gathering last night, or the fact that trans folks where not included in the hate crime bill in congress sponsored by HRC, or.... at least 38 trans folks where murdered last year.. horrible, horrible deaths . . .

but, I write you to let you know . . . not one person from this community called poets, not one from this group checked in to see how I was.. not one cared enough to imagine the weight this might have on one who is also a transperson... not one person.... and I can not come to but one simple conclusion... this is a hopeless battle, because no one . . . no one, has a clue... and thus the battle is lost...humanity is lost poetry is lost

and you know its not about ME, as in, poor suffering me... its that, I do not get anyone gets it, not really . . .. I mean, that's what its truly about . . . is knowing someone else shares in the fear, pain and suffering of a people... and I / we are not alone in this assault and battery . . . but that did not happen

I write you because I know you where not here.. and so somehow I can say in my mind... if you would have been here you would have gotten it... or I only hope.. since you are the only one who might.



Murder of Gwen Araujo Spurs Philanthropic Fund

Contact: Julie Dorf
Director of Philanthropic Services
415-398-2333 ext. 103 Date: March 8, 2004
For Immediate Release

SAN FRANCISCO - With the Gwen Araujo murder trial set to begin on March 15, Gwen's family, community activists, and Horizons Foundation have joined forces to create the Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education. This fund will make small grants to school programs that promote understanding of transgender people and issues among youth.

Gwen's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said, "I am so committed to ensuring that what happened to my daughter does not happen to anyone else. The hatred of others because they are different must stop, and this fund will help break the cycle of ignorance and violence - with kids in their schools and with their parents."

Horizons Foundation is a philanthropic social justice organization that has been serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community throughout the Bay Area for more than 20 years. "As a community foundation, Horizons has a special responsibility to pull together all LGBT people in the Bay Area, through a vehicle such as this fund, to help end the kind of violence and hatred that led to Gwen's death," said Roger Doughty, Executive Director of Horizons Foundation. "We are proud to be the home of the fund and to work closely with Gwen's family and other members of our community to have a real impact on youth."

The Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education will be advised by a group of transgender and education experts, and will accept donations from the community on-line via the Horizons Foundation website and through the mail. Horizons encourages other community organizations, youth advocates, and communities of faith to consider supporting this fund.

For more information and press photos, see

Horizons Foundation; 870 Market, Suite 728; San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone 415.398.2333; Fax 415.398.4783;


Family frustrated by judge's ruling
By Ben Aguirre Jr., STAFF WRITER

When the family of the transgender Newark teenager slain some 20 months ago entered a Hayward courtroom in March for the trial against the three men charged with the crime, they knew it would be a traumatizing experience.

Tuesday morning, family members learned they would have to relive the horrific details of the case again.

Judge Harry Sheppard declared a mistrial --

meaning the case will have to be retried -- after the jury told him that it was unable to reach a verdict against 24-year-olds Michael Magidson of Fremont and Newark residents Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, each charged with first-degree murder with a hate crime enhancement.

"If it takes us 20 times to get justice, we'll do it 20 times," said David Guerrero, the uncle of the 17-year-old victim who was born Eddie Araujo but was living as a woman named Gwen at the time of the October 2002 slaying.

"I would like to say that we're getting stronger," he said. "But


Decision sparks outrage
By Alison Soltau | Staff Writer

Shocked and disappointed transgender activists rallied in the Castro District Tuesday, describing the mistrial case of slain transgender teen Eddie "Gwen" Araujo as justice gone awry and a setback for civil rights.

But others took a different view, saying the fact that the jury did not exonerate the alleged murderers and accept their "heat of passion" defense was encouraging.

After the announcement that the deadlocked jury forced an Alameda judge to abort the trial, scores of activists gathered at Harvey Milk Plaza.

The deadlock was a "travesty of justice," said longtime transgender activist and Police Commissioner Theresa Sparks.


Decision isn't a win for defense strategy
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER

The trial of three men accused of killing transgendered teenager Gwen Araujo ended in a mistrial Tuesday, but apparently not because the defendants' controversial trial strategy worked, legal experts said.

The defense had basically pleaded a kind of "gay panic," asking the jury to mitigate the crime in which the three men took part by arguing they had been pushed into a rage by Gwen Araujo's concealment of her physical gender. Gwen was born Eddie Araujo.

But prosecutors polling the jury Tuesday reported the panel had rejected acquitting the defendants or convicting them of manslaughter; it simply couldn't reach unanimity on whether to convict the three men of first-degree murder or of second-degree murder.

The state penal code defines first-degree murder as premeditated and deliberate, while second-degree murder requires no premeditation.


Araujo Prosecutors Will Seek Murder Conviction Again
(ABC7)June 23 (BCN)

Speaking to reporters after a mistrial was declared when jurors deadlocked following deliberations that spanned parts of 10 days, Lamiero said, "We asked for a first-degree murder verdict this time based on what the evidence supports and we will ask for first-degree the next time as well."

Lamiero said he based his decision on brief discussions with jurors after Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard declared the mistrial, but he didn't disclose any details of those discussions.

Jurors sneaked out a back door at the courthouse to avoid talking to reporters who were waiting to interview them about the deliberation process that led to them deadlocking.

The jury foreman told Sheppard that in their latest balloting, jurors were 7-5 in favor of convicting Michael Magidson of first-degree murder but were 10-2 in favor of acquitting Jose Merel and Jason Cazares of first-degree murder


Anger, frustration at rally for Araujo in the Castro
Supporters find some solace in jury calling transgender's slaying a murder
Rona Marech, Chronicle Staff Writer

Advocates for transgender people, frustrated that the trial of three men accused of killing Gwen Araujo ended Tuesday in a mistrial, found comfort in the jury's apparent rejection of defense arguments that the young woman, who was biologically male, shared some responsibility for her death.

Jurors agreed that Michael Magidson, 24, of Fremont, Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, both 24 of Newark, were guilty of murder but deadlocked over whether it was first- or second-degree murder, said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero. That, advocates for transgender people said, shows the panel didn't buy defense claims that Araujo's slaying was not murder but manslaughter, a crime of passion fueled by the defendants' shock and anger at having been "duped" into having sex with a youth who was born a boy but lived as a girl.

"This jury wasn't willing to acquit and rejected manslaughter," said Carolyn Laub, director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. "They agree that it's murder. That's important for everyone to hear. It's not justice yet, but it means the jury understands the value of one life and that the actions of these men was intentional. ... We've moved on as a society. We've rejected the idea that this young woman is responsible for her own death."

Still, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard's declaration of a mistrial angered many people. It drew gasps within the courtroom, and some supporters of the Araujo family dropped their heads into their hands.

"I am just angry they weren't convicted of first-degree murder. I'm frustrated that this has to go on for another year," said Theresa Sparks, a San Francisco police commissioner and longtime transgender rights advocate. She said she finds it infuriating that the defendants' attorneys believe the "trans panic" defense is valid.


Transgender History On The March

In a groundbreaking event, the transgender community of San Francisco
will proudly step forward by taking the first marching steps of San
Francisco Pride Weekend. An unprecedented Trans March is scheduled to
be held Friday evening, June 25. The broad and diverse spectrum of
transgendered people will be assembling at Dolores Park at 7:00 PM and
will begin their march to Civic Center at 8:00 PM. Upon their arrival, there

will be a ceremony inaugurating the 1st annual Transr Altar to honor,
chronicle, and celebrate the struggles, the sacrifices and the
accomplishments of our community.

The gathering at Civic Center will be addressed by State Assemblyman
Mark Leno, San Francisco Police Commissioner Theresa Sparks, and other
notable community members and friends. Marchers are being encouraged to

bring significant and meaningful objects, pictures and writings to be
placed on the altar to be displayed for the duration of Pride weekend.

?What started off as a grass roots rally is turning into two historical

events?, says community activist Cecilia Chung, ?We have no idea who
the original organizers were for the march but we are committed to
creating a safe event for our community. It?s exciting to know that
there are others with the same vision and we are expecting a great turnout. We
also want to thank San Francisco Pride for giving the financial support

as well as an opportunity to create our own venue for the transgender
community. All we need now is to spread the words, recruit volunteers,
and ask community members and allies to bring something personal to
help build the altar.?

The Trans Altar is a project sponsored by San Francisco LGBT Pride
Celebration and will become a permanent art exhibit for future Pride
Celebrations here in San Francisco.

"The Pride Committee is excited to present the Trans Altar at our event

this year as a way to honor and celebrate the Transgender community in
all it's beauty and humanity. It provides Pride with a new, creative
way to fulfill our mission of mirroring the diversity and inclusivity
of the Celebration. The Altar, along with the Trans March, signals a new
level of visibility for the Transgender community and a new level of
growth for the LGBT community as a whole." says Joey Cain, current
President of San Francisco Pride.

Endorsers of the march include:

San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee
San Francisco LGBT Community Center
Remembering Our Dead Project
Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Youth Gender Project (YGP)
Transgender Law Center (TLC)
UCSF Transgender Resource and Neighborhood Space (TRANS)
San Francisco Transgender Empowerment, Advocacy & Mentorship (SF TEAM)

For more information contact:
phone: (415) 585-0545

Cecilia Chung


Gender hate crimes act passes Senate; no mention of transgender people
by NewStandard Staff

Jun 23 - The US Senate voted yesterday in favor of a "Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act" that would define crimes that target individuals because of sexual orientation as hate crimes. "Hate crimes tear at the very fabric of our nation," Senator Gordon Smith (D-OR) said. "These kinds of crimes do more than harm the victims. They terrorize our entire society and send a message of hate and intolerance to millions of Americans."

While advocates for gay and lesbian rights applauded the 65-33 vote, spokespeople for transgender activists criticized the measure because its language does not include special punishment for crimes against people targeted because they do not conform to traditional gender expression. "In light of the amount of crimes that are committed each year against trans people that result in death, the fact [that] the language 'gender identity or inclusion' is not in the bill continues to send the message that it's OK to hate us and to kill us," said Ethan St. Pierre, a member of the National Transgender Activist Coalition.


Transgenders get okay for name change on ID card
By Relly Sa'ar

Haaretz Correspondent Interior Minister Avraham Poraz has made a gesture toward the transgender community in honor of Gay Pride Day tomorrow, instructing the outgoing head of the Population Registry, Herzl Gadj, to process requests by transgenders to change their first names before they undergo a sex-change operation.

Until now, residents who had a sex-change operation were entitled to a name change in their identity cards - for example, from traditionally male to traditionally female names - if a physician confirmed the procedure had taken place.

The ministry noted that transgenders who have not yet changed their sex sometimes want to change their names on their identity cards to correspond with their sexual identity. Poraz decided that a transgender's desire for a name change is sufficient, regardless of whether or not a sex-change operation has taken place.

Poraz was acting on complaints that Population Registry clerks are refusing to change a male resident's name to a female name, and vice versa




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