For archives, these articles are being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.

 
Friday, 26 December, 2003
The victims of prejudice
By Chris Summers
BBC News Online
Brandon Teena and lover Lana Tisdale
On 26 December 1993 a young transsexual was shot and stabbed to death in the United States in a crime which later became the subject of the Oscar-winning movie Boys Don't Cry.
Ten years on, her family are still seeking justice and dozens of transsexuals continue to be murdered every year.
The film told the true story of Brandon Teena, a girl from Nebraska who chose to live as a boy.
Brandon, who was 21, and two other people, were shot and stabbed to death only days after she complained to the police about being raped.
Two men, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen, were convicted of first-degree murder.
Nissen struck a plea bargain and was jailed for life in exchange for testifying against Lotter, who was sentenced to death in 1996.
Nebraska is the only state in the United States which retains the electric chair, last used in 1997 for triple killer Robert Williams.
Brandon Teena suffered from a form of gender dysmorphia
Lotter's lawyers are still fighting to save his life.
But Brandon's mother JoAnn is campaigning for justice for her child, who was born Teena Brandon but flipped her names when she started living as a boy.
JoAnn Brandon remains bitter about the way her daughter was treated after she made the rape complaint.
Brandon, 21, had lived as a boy for several years, strapping her breasts down, wearing men's clothes and padding her underwear with socks.
She was also dating a woman, Lana Tisdale, who initially believed she was a boy but remained with her when she discovered the truth.
Six days before she died Brandon was attacked and raped by Lotter and Nissen, who had recently found out she was actually a girl.
Brandon reported the attack to Richardson County Sheriff Charles Laux and identified Lotter and Nissen as the assailants.
John Lotter has spent seven years on death row.

The victims of prejudice

Photo copyright: Oliviero Toscani/Hands Off Cain
John Lotter has spent seven years on death row.
Copyright: Oliviero Toscani/Hands Off Cain
Race for plea bargain
Mr Laux has been heavily criticised for not arresting the pair and for the way he acted during Brandon's interview.
He ridiculed her sexuality and was later censured by Nebraska's Supreme Court for the "crude and dehumanising" way he went about interviewing her.
Wrote Judge John Hendry:
"Laux's conduct was extreme and outrageous, beyond all possible bounds of decency, and is to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilised community."
Last year Mrs Brandon was awarded $7,000 for the emotional distress to Brandon before her death and $5,000 — less than the funeral expenses — for her own loss.
'Her life was worth more than $5,000'
Mrs Brandon lost an appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court and said at the time: "I am very disappointed.   I think my daughter's life was worth more than $5,000."
Gwen Smith, who runs a website called Remembering Our Dead which monitors violence against members of the transgender community, said there had been a gradual changing of attitudes in the US and added:
"A lot of it stems back to the Brandon Teena case.
It was very shocking and it was a wake-up call.
After it happened the transgender community began to get together and start working on things."
Gwen Araujo was murdered after it was discovered she was anatomically male
Gwen Smith said violent antipathy towards transsexuals remained high in the US, especially in certain "hotspots" such as Washington DC and Texas.
Ms Smith told BBC News Online: "In the last calendar year there have been 39 transsexuals murdered worldwide, and all have contained an element of anti-transgender bias in them."
One of the most horrific cases was that of Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old boy from Newark, California, who chose to live as a girl.
He was beaten, raped and then murdered after several young men at a party discovered his true sexuality.
Ms Smith said: "There have been changes in Nebraska since Brandon was killed.   It was something which shamed the community, a bit like the murder of [homosexual student] Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998."
At Lotter's trial prosecutors said he was terrified of being jailed for the rape and decided to silence the only witness.
Lotter and Nissen tracked Brandon down to a remote farmhouse near Humboldt, Nebraska and killed her, a friend Lisa Lambert, 24, and another man, 22-year-old Phillip DeVine.
Race for plea bargain
When they were arrested for the murder Nissen offered to give evidence against Lotter in exchange for avoiding the death sentence.
People were embarrassed that this crime happened in Nebraska and not Possum Shore, Mississippi.
Jerry Soucie
Lawyer
Lotter's attorney, Jerry Soucie, told BBC News Online:
"The US has a system of plea bargaining, which is always a race to the district attorney's office and the guy who gets there second is dead."
Mr Soucie recently filed a petition with the US Supreme Court requesting the death sentence be set aside because the sentencing phase was undertaken by a judge rather than a jury.
Mr Soucie said there was no physical evidence linking his client to the murder scene:
"It was circumstantial evidence based on the sexual assault a week before, which established motive, and several people saw them looking for Teena Brandon on the day of the homicide."
Mr Soucie said there had been a lot of embarrassment in Nebraska about the way the case was handled by Sheriff Laux.
Changing people's attitudes is a slow process.
It's an evolutionary process and it will take time
'Embarrassed'
"People were embarrassed that this crime happened in Nebraska and not Possum Shore, Mississippi.   It made us look like a bunch of doofuses," he said.
Mr Laux was voted out of office shortly afterwards and now works as a prison guard.
Earlier this year the Nebraska Supreme Court rejected appeals by Lotter's lawyers, who claimed he was entitled to have a glove DNA tested.
But Mr Soucie said: "I still think Mr Lotter has at least two or three years to fight on."
Gwen Smith said many US states had now introduced legislation to combat discrimination against transsexuals — the UK is set to introduce its own Gender Recognition Bill next year.
But she said:
"Changing people's attitudes is a slow process.
It's an evolutionary process and it will take time."
TRANSSEXUAL MURDER CASES
Feb 1997: James/Robyn Brown, London, UK
Oct 1999: Sissy "Charles" Bolden, Savannah, Georgia
July 2000: Julia Carrizales, Webster, Texas
Oct 2002: Gwen Araujo, Newark, California
July 2003: Kendrick/Cinnamon Perry, Houston, Texas
Aug 2003: Emonie Spaulding, Washington DC
Oct 2003Erika Johana, Rome, Italy
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
US men kill transgender teenager
Defendants (l-r) Jose Merel, Michael Magidson and Jason Cazares
The men buried Gwen Araujo in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevada
Two US men have been found guilty in California of killing a transgender teenager with whom they both had sex.
Michael Magidson and Jose Merel beat, tied up and strangled 17-year-old Gwen Araujo after discovering she was biologically male, the court heard.
Her body was found in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevada hills soon after the October 2002 killing in Newark.
The men face 15 years to life in jail for murder but were cleared of hate crime charges.
It was the second time the case had gone to court, after a first attempt in 2004 was declared a mistrial.
A mistrial was declared in the case of a third suspect, Jason Cazares. He told the court he only helped bury the victim.
'Towards closure'
Speaking after the verdict, Ms Araujo's mother Sylvia Guerrero told the Associated Press news agency she was pleased with the outcome.
She said: "Nothing is going to bring Gwen back. I know that. But this is at least a step towards closure."
Poster in memory of Gwen Araujo.

Gwen Araujo was born a boy called Edward but decided she was female
Gwen Araujo was born a boy called Edward but decided she was female
The court in Hayward, California, heard Ms Araujo had been born a boy named Edward but chose to live as a female.
She met the defendants, who knew her as Lida, in 2002 and they both had sexual encounters with her.
Suspicions about her gender ended in a confrontation in the early hours at Merel's home, the court heard.
A witness who was also at the house described how the victim was savagely beaten after her biological identity was revealed when her underwear was pulled aside.
An autopsy concluded she died of asphyxiation associated with head injuries.
A lawyer for Magidson said he would appeal against the verdict.
SEE ALSO:

 
 
       Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     
       Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     

 
 
 
For archives, these articles are being stored on TheWE.cc website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.