In Anticipation of Matthew Shepard + 10

[Cross-posted at Pam’s House Blend]

I know there are a lot of hate-crime-statute addicts out there and my opinion of the usefulness of such statutes doesn’t exactly endear me to them.

OKay – lets stick to something we do have in common: hatred of laws (and those who create such laws) that allow gays and lesbians to discriminate against trans people.

Its still a few months off, but in October we’ll all be inundated (and not unjustifiably so) with ten-year remembrances of the disgusting murder of Matthew Shepard.

For some reason, I’m guessing that the following won’t be amonst the officially-consecrated corporate gay remembrances:

18-year-old Transvestite Stabbed, Beaten


An 18-year-old male, dressed as a woman, was stabbed late October 13 on South Park Street, just hours after a rally/vigil was held on the Capitol steps at State Street in memory of the murdered college student in Laramie, Wyoming. Madison officials originally considered adding Wisconsin’s Hate Crime enhancement charge onto the charge against the perpetrator, but backed off after carefully studying the law, and realizing “it didn’t cover cross-dressing.”

Johnny Louis Ellis, 43, was tentatively charged with aggravated battery while armed with a dangerous weapon. He was also accused of bail jumping because he was out of jail on bail on a domestic battery case. Ellis said to the victim, “I know what you are – you’re a man.”

Police say Ellis’ comments don’t show he “picked his victim because he thought he was Gay.” Police Office Dave Gouran was quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal saying, “You can be a cross-dresser without being Gay and the (hate crime) statute doesn’t speci fy cross-dressers.”

That was from a news item in the October 22, 1998 issue of WI Light.

Wisconsin law did not (and still does not) cover trans people – even though it does cover gays and lesbians.

I usually point this out in the context of general anti-discrimination laws (i.e., in a jurisdiction such as Wisconsin, the person doing the discriminating against the trans person easily could be GLB – after all, why should we trust those who will pass laws excluding us not to take advantage of that exclusion to avoid having to work with us), but it works here as well.

How do we know that Ellis – the assaulter – was not gay?

Does it matter?

Well, as a legal matter…NO!

With no trans-inclusion in the law, there’s no hate-crime enhancement standing, allegedly, as a disincentive to such assaults.  Translation: its open season against trans people by everyone else, GLBs as well as straights (genuine as well as those who claim to be so.)

But, think about what the situation would have been if the 18-year-old had been accused of assaulting Ellis – with the accusation specifying that the assault was because of Ellis’ sexual orientation – whatever that may happen to be, though, for purposes of this example, let’s assume its not hetero.

The 18-year-old gets tagged with not only the assault charge but also a hate-crime enhancement.

I know, with this I’m making the religionists’ case against hate crime laws.

So be it.

But I also just made the case for trans-inclusion in employment anti-discrimination laws – such as Wisconsin’s, which, in 1998 had been gay only for 16 years and, in 2008, has been gay-only for 26 years.  After all, some people do their discriminatin’ with their fists (or beer bottles, etc.) and some people do it with their power to exclude certain other people from being able to participate in the United States economy.

I don’t trust either group of people.

That means you, christianists.

And that means you too, HRC-oids.

One Response to In Anticipation of Matthew Shepard + 10

  1. […] refer back to my item about the practical permutations of Wisconsin […]

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