Thursday, April 23, 2009

Allen Andrade convicted for the murder of Angie Zapata

by Laura Smith-Gary

In July of 2008, Allen Andrade murdered 18-year-old Angie Zapata by bashing in her skull with a fire extinguisher because he found out (by sexually assaulting her, grabbing her crotch without permission) that she was transgender.

At his trial, Andrade's defense attorneys admitted he'd killed her, admitted he'd killed her because she was transgender, and argued that the fact that she was "really a man" had caused him "trans panic," and that she was at fault because she'd "deceived" him about her gender. That is, they argued that her very existence as a transgendered person was provocation enough for him to brutally, remorselessly murder her.

On April 22nd, the jury deliberated for just two hours and convicted the bastard of first-degree murder and hate crimes. He has been sentenced to mandatory life without parole.

This can hardly be regarded as a victory -- a young woman is dead. Still, it is important that the jury apparently rejected out-of-hand the defense attorney's sickening suggestions that any reasonable person who discovered a date was transgender might be liable to deliberately and systematically bludgeoning them to death. That might seem like a no-brainer, but murders of transgender men and women have often been ignored, justified, or even endorsed by public officials and private citizens alike. Anrade's conviction -- and the rejection of the trans-hating defense -- was necessary.

This story has been pretty thoroughly covered and discussed in the blogosphere, and I strongly encourage you to read at least some of these posts. JusticeforAngie is a twitter feed that gives a blow-by-blow account of the trial. Cara discusses the fight for justice, trial and conviction at Feministe and The Curvature (her post about the murder is linked above). Questioning Transphobia has a number of excellent posts covering all aspects of the story, so many that I'm just going to link to the whole blog. News stories can be read here (the Greeley Tribune) and here (CNN). Be aware that outside of discussions that are explicitly trans friendly many comments and even stories are filled with vile, triggering trash -- be careful.

For those who are new to trans issues I highly recommend the Trans 101 section at Questioning Transphobia. Please refer to that if you're genuinely confused about things like why referring to a trans woman like Angie as "he" is offensive -- I'm pretty new to trans issues myself, and the articles they link to explain it much better than I can.

Note for anyone leaving comments: I am very open to discussing the legal aspects of this case, the social implications, and so on. At the same time, I don't have moderation privileges but by God if you leave transphobic comments on my post I will get you deleted so fast your head will spin. Don't even think about it.

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