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 Topic: The Gwen Araujo Thread

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kereth  



Joined: 08 Jun 2004
Posts: 19
Interests: classics, anthropology, gender and religion in the ancient world, religious and magical practices, archaeology, theory of ideas
Physical Location: Southeastern US

Posted: 19 Jun 2004, 9:24 pm    Post subject: The Gwen Araujo Thread Reply with quote

Jury stumbles in teen transgender murder case

The facts of this case as I (roughly) understand them:

Gwen Araujo, a seventeen year-old male-to-female transgender person, was friends with her killers and had had sexual relations with at least one of them. The men began to suspect that she might be transgender and had had at least one conversation about it. At a gathering at the home of one of her killers, a woman known to them settled the question by grabbing her genitals. The details of the killing are hazy, gruesome, and not terribly relevant to my question.

The defense has been using the "gay panic" defense, which rests on the assumption that it is natural for a man who has had sex with someone and subsequently found out that her anatomical and genetic profile is/once was that of a male to be so traumatized, shocked, and enraged that he would kill his former lover. The prosecution has argued that Ms. Araujo lied to and deceived her killers, and this is bad, but not something she should have been killed for.

It is not the prosecution's job to defend Ms. Araujo's actions or her identity, but only to attack the diminished capacity defense proposed by the defense attorneys. I feel that this interest would be best served by emphasizing that Ms. Araujo did not deceive her killers with the intention of doing them harm, but with the intention of protecting herself and living a normal life, by calling in expert witnesses to attack the entire notion of "gay panic", and by not contributing to the defense's "wages of sin" argument which attempts to establish Ms. Araujo's complicity in her own death. Incidentally, this would also serve the transgender and transsexual community by sending the very clear message that "gay panic" is not a viable excuse for killing another human being. The politics of the case are not the prosecuting attorney's concern; however I feel the case is undermined by the arguments which I have read in the media.

Which way do you see the jury leaning with this one? (Of course by tomorrow they may well have decided.) What are the implications of this case, the jury's decision, and the arguments of the respective legal representatives? Any legal opinions? How does this interact with arguments about hate crime legislation? And, of course, sheer emotional reaction to the case is not to be ignored: The jury's decision will, rightly or wrongly, send a message to transgender, transsexual, and gender variant people as to how much value the law places on our lives.

Definition of Hate Crime
Definition of Murder
Definition of Manslaughter

Kereth
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kereth  



Joined: 08 Jun 2004
Posts: 19
Interests: classics, anthropology, gender and religion in the ancient world, religious and magical practices, archaeology, theory of ideas
Physical Location: Southeastern US

Posted: 22 Jun 2004, 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A mistrial was declared in the trial of Gwen Araujo's killers, with the jury deadlocked between murder one and murder two. They had discounted manslaughter. This means that while they were satisfied that the killing was not justified, nor was the "gay panic" defense wholly successful, they were not conviced that the killers acted in cold blood. The District Attorney's office must now decided whether, when, and how to retry the defendants.

Kereth
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Forecast for tomorrow: Partly male with a 70% chance of Byronism
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Ninelives  



Joined: 25 Jun 2004
Posts: 3
Interests: Music, Playing guitar, philosophy, life the universe and everything.

Posted: 25 Jun 2004, 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being new to all this i am a little ignorant still so forgive me any random moments of idiocy.

If such a thing as gay panic actually exists (it sounds like a made up piece of jargon to justify hate crimes to me) then to me the issue is not so much on the gay part but on the panic part of the term. Is it possible for a person to panic so much that they turn to murder. As someone that has had severe panic attacks in very public places in the past while on prozac i can say the only thing i wanted to do was run away. I know fight and flight responses are generated by the same chemical but to say it can lead to murder is very very steep. To me it smells of the same prejadice that is in the walls ice cream ad that TS/TG people are out to lure poor defenceless and unsuspecting hetro males into bed. So i am glad that the defence failed. It shows that the jury wasn't as stupid as the lawer for using it. I think he would have stood a better chance arguing rage rather than panic. As it shows him to be the angry hatefull person he obviously is rather than a poor victim.

To me the case seems to highlight the tricky issue of when we should disclose our trans nature. This is a very individual issue but i feel that it is important to make it known before a relationship moves that far. Of course i am new to this so i haven't had to test my own belief yet so it could be easier said than done. In my opinion while she did not deserve to be put through what she was she did create a potentially volitile situation of unknowable proportions. We have to think of our own saftey. So i can't help but think the main lesson I learned from this case and the case covered in 'Boys Don't Cry' is that it may be wrong what they did but I as a trans person have to take my own saftey very seriously. This debate won't bring gwen back, it has happened. Could it improve understanding? possibly but change takes time and I need to protect myself now. Anyway that is my opinion based on my very limited tg experiance.
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