Saturday, September 17, 2005

Never Enough Gratitude For The Fallen Department

(No, I'm not talking about the dead in Iraq--although I am quite grateful to them as well....)

I'm excited that the Hate Crimes Bill cleared the House. I'm doubly excited that, for the first time, such a bill includes gender identity as a protected category.

From Rep. Nancy Pelosi's comments, it sounds like the murder of Gwen Araujo was a catalyst for this inclusion. If only the hundreds dead before were enough. If only simple outrage at one trans murder was enough. If only such brutality was not necessary to stir souls.

Transgender deaths are not rare--they happen all too frequently--so what was so special about her death? Was it because it happened in tolerant California? Or, as I sometimes suspect, was it that Gwen was a young and beautiful woman? That suspicion sickens me, and yet I cannot rule it out in the light of a media that focused on Natalee Holloway's rape and murder while largely ignoring similar plights among women of color.

That said, I am glad that Araujo's tragedy has motivated change, while still wishing that compassion, not tragedy, was the source of that change.

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