TDOR: ‘Everyone deserves to be mourned’

Services planned this weekend in Dallas and Fort Worth to remember, honor the more than 200 trans people murdered worldwide in the last year

Marcal-Tye

Marcal Camero Tye

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Marcal Camero Tye, 25, was a friendly, outgoing young woman who got along well with most people in the small town of Forrest City, Ark., where she lived — despite the fact that she was openly transgender in such a conservative atmosphere.

But sometime after leaving a party at a friend’s house on the evening of March 7, somebody murdered Marcal Tye.

Investigators say that Tye, whose body was found early in the morning of March 8 on a rural road outside Forrest City, was shot in the head and then run over by a car, her body apparently getting caught in the vehicle’s undercarriage and dragged for some distance.

St. Frances County Sheriff Bobby May has insisted that the killing was just “a regular murder” and not a hate crime. But those who knew Tye and LGBT activists who have been following the crime believe Tye was killed because she was transgender.

Marcal Tye is just one of the 22 trans people murdered over the last 12 months who will be remembered by name during Transgender Day of Remembrance services on Sunday at the Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas. And she is just one of 221 trans people murdered worldwide in the last year, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project.

Transgender Day of Remembrance began in November 1999 when trans activists and their allies gathered in San Francisco for a candlelight vigil to remember Rita Hester, a trans woman who had been stabbed to death a year earlier in her apartment in Allston, Mass., just outside of Boston.

Her murder has never been solved.

“There had been a candlelight vigil the year before in December, right after she was killed, there in Boston. But a year later, people felt the need to do something to bring attention to her murder and to the murders of other trans people,” explained Erin Roberts, one of the organizers of this year’s TDOR service.

“Just six weeks before Rita Hester was murdered, Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming, and that made headlines around the world. Everybody was talking about his murder, talking about doing something about hate crimes. But when Rita Hester was killed, very few people paid any attention. It seemed like nobody really paid attention when a trans person was murdered,” Robert said.

“And it’s not that we have any problem with all the publicity around Matthew Shepard’s murder. It was a horrible thing, and it deserved that attention,” Roberts continued. “But there was just such a stark contrast in the way the two murders were treated, especially in the press. People wanted to do something to bring attention to the fact that trans people are murdered every day in horrible, brutal ways.”

Also on the list of those killed in the past 12 months are six trans women who were killed in a 60-day period in the Honduras, beginning last November. The most recent additions to the list of 22 are 19-year-old Shelley Hilliard, who was killed then decapitated, dismembered and burned on Oct. 23 in Detroit; and Jessica Rollon, 32, who was strangled to death in Bergamo, Italy on Oct. 30.

Roberts pointed out that when transgender people are killed, the murders are often characterized by extreme violence and “overkill.” They aren’t just shot, they are shot and beaten. They aren’t just stabbed, they are stabbed over and over and over.

“And as long as trans people continue to be dehumanized, it will continue to happen,” Roberts said. “We are real people, with real emotions. We feel love and pain and joy and sorrow, just like anyone else. But people don’t see us that way. They see us as ‘other,’ and something besides regular human beings.”

Roberts said this week that “one of the last things I did as a boy” was to attend TDOR services last year in Dallas. And after transitioning earlier this year, she said, she got involved in helping organize this year’s service. And she will do it again next year, too.

“As long as we continue to be killed and brutalized, we will continue to have Transgender Day of Remembrance events,” Roberts said. “Because everyone deserves to be mourned.”

TDOR services in Dallas will be held Sunday, Nov. 20, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. The evening will include a performance by the singing group Mosaic and speeches by Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas, Roberts, Oliver Blumer and Rosemarie Odom.

The names of the 20 victims will be read aloud, and flowers will be placed on the podium in memory of each one. There will also be a candlelight vigil.
Blumer and Nell Gaither were co-organizers of the event with Roberts.

Fort Worth TDOR

Agape Metropolitan Community Church of Fort Worth and Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Arlington are joining forces to hold an interfaith gathering for TDOR on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. at Agape MCC, 4615 E. California Parkway in southeast Fort Worth.

The Rev.  Stephen V. Sprinkle from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University will speak on the topic “Unfinished Lessons,” explaining “five lessons that LGBTQ hate crimes murder victims have to teach us, if we will only learn them.”

Tori Van Fleet, a forensics expert with the Fort Worth Police Department who came out as a trans women when she joined the fight to get the city of Fort Worth to add protections for trans people to its nondiscrimination ordinance, will also speak during the service.

Van Fleet said this week, “I am looking forward to the day when the TDOR bells are silent due to there not being any more violence against my transgender brothers and sisters. Until then, we will continue to bring attention to the violence we face due to bigotry, hate, fear and even misinformation, simply for being ourselves and trying to live our lives as best we can.”

Several Brite Divinity student clergy have also been active in planning and will participate in the service through music, media and readings.

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REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS

The 20 trans people who will be remembered by name during Transgender Day of Remembrance services Sunday in Dallas are:

Idania Roberta Sevilla Raudales, 58, Comayagüela City, Honduras; died Nov. 29, 2010; had her throat slit.

Luisa Alvarado Hernández, 23,Comayagüela City, Honduras; died Dec. 22, 2010; was stoned, beaten and burned.

• Lady Óscar Martínez Salgado, 43, Tegucigalpa, Honduras; died Dec. 22, 2010; was burned and stabbed.

• Reana ‘Cheo’ Bustamente, age unknown, Tegucigalpa, Honduras; died Dec. Jan. 2, 2011; was stabbed multiple times in the chest.

• Génesis Briget Makaligton, mid-20s, Comayagüela City, Honduras; died Jan. 7, 2011; was strangled to death.

• Krissy Bates, 45, Minneapolis, Minn.; died Jan. 10, 2011; was stabbed multiple times.

• Fergie Alice Ferg, age unknown, San Pedro Sula, Honduras; died Jan. 18, 2011; was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

• Tyra Trent, 25, Baltimore, Md.; died Feb. 19, 2011; was strangled to death.

• Priscila Brandão, 22, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; died March 2, 2011; was shot in the head.

• Marcal Camero Tye, 25, Forrest City, Ark.; died March 8, 2011; was shot in the head, run over and dragged by a car.

• Shakira Harahap, 28, Taman Lawang, Jakarta, Indonesia; died March 10, 2011; was shot to death.

• Miss Nate Nate (or Née) Eugene Davis, 44, Houston; died June 13, 2011; was shot to death., Washington, D.C.; died July 20, 2011; was shot to death.

• Didem, 26, Findikzade, Istanbul; died July 31, 2011; had her throat slit.

• Camila Guzman, 38, New York City; died Aug. 1, 2011; was stabbed repeatedly in the back and neck.

• Gaby, age unknown, Jalisco, Mexico; died Aug. 6, 2011; was beaten and burned.

• Unidentified male dressed in women’s clothes, estimated age 30; Paris, France; was stabbed to death.

• Gaurav Gopalan, 35, Washington, D.C.; died Sept. 10, 2011; suffered subarachnoid hemorrhage due to blunt-force head trauma.

• Ramazan Çetin, 24, Gaziantep, Turkey; died Oct. 6, 2011; was shot to death by her brother who claimed to be defending the family’s honor.

• Shelley Hilliard, 19, Detroit, Mich.; died Oct.23 but body was not identified until Nov. 10; was killed, decapitated, dismembered and burned.

• Jessica Rollon, 32, Bergamo, Italy; died Oct. 30, 2011; was strangled to death.

• Astrid Carolina López Cruz, 30, Madrid, Spain; died Nov. 4, 2011; was beaten and stabbed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Making use of a chance to educate

Instead of working to block controversial film, TENT wants to put transgender issues on the front burner at Austin film fest by sponsoring discussion of movie

Recently, Transgender Education Network of Texas has made a very difficult decision. We have been following  the controversy surrounding the film, “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.” We have been discussing the issue with Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (AGLIFF) and both organizations believe that there needs to be dialog surrounding the film.

To that end, AGLIFF will bring the film to their well-attended festival in the fall, and TENT will facilitate a discussion afterward. This was not a decision we made lightly and we want to take a moment and clarify our position.

Many trans activists, as well as GLAAD, have been very vocal critics of this film and the “negative portrayal of trans people in it.”

The majority of our board has screened this film and, though many of us don’t think the film the greatest piece of celluloid art out there, we all pretty much agree that on its surface, it doesn’t portray trans folk too negatively.

Quite to the contrary, it shows drag queens (part of the trans community) fighting back against people who want to hurt them (and are very successful … at least physically).

I’d like to lay all of our cards on the table here. Originally, we were looking at this film to use as a fundraiser for TENT. After all, with all the controversy and shouting, it was bound to be a money-maker.

And we felt strongly that we needed to have a conversation around what was really making us angry; as an organization whose mission is to educate folks about the gender diverse, we felt an obligation to facilitate a conversation.

But after our second viewing and subsequent discussion, it became clear to many of us that using this film as a fundraiser would be adding more fuel to an already over-stoked fire.

We also felt that doing nothing was not an option either. You know, if folks didn’t raise a fuss about this film it may not have even made a ripple in our community.

As a matter of fact the controversy, arguments and protests have done more to pique the interest of viewers than any standard marketing that La Luna Entertainment had planned to do.

So, it is out there; we can’t do anything about that. So we feel it is necessary to talk about it.

We also feel that to have an intelligent discussion about the film, it is necessary to actually see it. Many of the protesters have not seen it and don’t plan to for fear of giving the appearance of condoning the film. We hope they change their minds when it comes to Austin.

Let’s take a moment to talk about what the critics are saying.

One of the biggest issues early on was the use of the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado in the trailers marketing the film.

The film gives a nod to the “blacksploitation” films of the 1960s and is graphically violent, shot in high contrast and is very campy. The protesters (rightly, in my opinion) strongly objected to the use of the two very real and very tragic murders in the marketing of this admittedly violent and campy film.

The filmmaker listened to the critics and quickly removed those quotes. I didn’t see that trailer (it had already been pulled) and when I spoke to Israel Luna, the maker of the film, I said to him that had I seen the original trailer, I would probably be equally as offended.

I asked him if he understood that and he answered, “Yes, and that is why I removed those references.”

Although they have been removed from the trailer, this is still an issue that the critics hold on to as a reason to protest.

The other reason that the protesters and GLAAD would like to see the film banned is because “… it demeans actual transgender women who struggle for acceptance and respect in their day-to-day lives.”

We’re not so sure we agree with this statement.  Whereas drag queens are not indicative of all or even most of the gender diverse community, they are a part of the community and, I for one, am proud to stand side by side with them.

After all, it was the drag queens that hurled the first bottles to start the protest at Stonewall, a protest that launched a movement.
Now drag queens, by definition, are usually caricatures of women. We all know what it means to wear “drag queen” make-up, and few women wear the exaggerated make-up and clothing on the street in their day-to-day lives.

But that is the nature of being a drag queen; they are performers wearing a costume. And guess what?  They exist in real life. I know quite a few and are honored to call them friends.

In my opinion, the drag queens characterized in the film are pretty darn accurate. For the most part, I liked these characters. They were real!  Yes, I said it: Real.

Finally, there are a couple of criticisms that I may agree with. The first is the title.

I don’t condone the use of the “T” word; I don’t use the “T” word, and I advocate that no one use it.

The other criticism that has a bit of credence is the speed in which the film goes from a relatively realistic portrayal of horrendous violence perpetrated against these trans women to a “check your brains at the door” campiness. I have some real problems with that and would have a few suggestions for Mr. Luna for a re-edit if he wants to hear them.

But, all of those things aside, it is time to watch the film and talk about it.

It is for that reason that we are not blocking AGLIFF from bringing it to the film festival. In interest of full disclosure, we were given the opportunity to block it; if TENT said “no,” AGLIFF would not have brought it in.

But we feel strongly that this controversial film can open a dialog that can do a lot of good. So we said, bring it in and let us sponsor the discussion after. We hope to have the filmmaker, the critics, the supporters, and GLAAD all participate in this important discussion.

Lisa Scheps is executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, based in Austin. The talk-back will be held immediately after the screening of the film on Friday, Sept. 10 at 9:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Everyone is welcome to attend.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas