2016 Already Deadly for Trans Women; At Least 48 Murdered in Brazil

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At Least 48 Brazilian Trans Women Already Murdered in 2016

+ Horrifyingly, there have been at least 48 trans women reported killed in Brazil so far in 2016. It’s important to keep in mind that the real number is likely significantly higher than this, as these are only the killings that have been reported and/or in which are correctly identified as trans women. It’s common for law enforcement and media to misgender trans victims of violence, making it difficult to estimate exact numbers, although it’s unequivocal that they’re high. A 2015 report from Al Jazeera found that Brazil has “the greatest number of murdered trans people in the world.”

In late January, Brazil launched a campaign to support its trans citizens aiming to “inform and educate both society and the health professionals about the benefits of personalized attentions to that segment of the society.” Despite the effort, it seems that so far 2016 is more than on track to match the epidemic of violence against trans women that previous years have seen.

So Presidential

+ Last night there was yet another Democratic Town Hall event, in which Bernie and Hillary answered questions posed to them by voters from New Hampshire, which will feature the first primary vote. I’m not writing a separate post on it because there are just SO many of these events at this point it’s absurd! I mean there’s another Dem debate tonight and another GOP debate on Saturday and ANOTHER Dem debate on February 11 and the actual election of the President of the United States is still more than ten months away. A child conceived today would likely be born before then. God help us all. Anyway! The Dem Town Hall last night didn’t reveal much more about anyone’s platform than we likely already knew, although it was the first official Dem event without O’Malley in it. The major issues remain: how is Bernie going to pay for his plans, why did Hillary vote the way she did on the Iraq war, who supports veterans the most, who can reach across the aisle, etc etc.


My favorite part is this:

COOPER: I just have a few more. Actually it (looks like it seems)… So we just have time for a few more questions. We’ve covered a lot of, a lot of foreign policy issues. There’s a lot of folks out who really don’t know much about you, so I thought we’d just ask a couple of sort of lighter questions just to kind get to know you. I read one of daughters say that, if you had a car, or if they sold cars with manual locks on windows, that’s the kind of car you would get. So what kind of car do you actually have.
SANDERS: I have a small Chevrolet. It is one of the smallest Chevys that they make.
COOPER: Do you know what year it’s from?
SANDERS: Yeh, it’s about five years old.
COOPER: OK, not bad.
SANDERS: A red car.
COOPER: Is it true you chop your own wood? It’s a red car.
SANDERS: Pretty good on mileage, but yeah.
COOPER: Is it true you chop your own wood.

Politics, everybody! You can read the full transcript here.

+ In his last term as President, Obama made his first visit to an American mosque, the Islamic Society of Baltimore, giving a 45-minute speech that “[framed] Islam as deeply American and its critics as violating the nation’s cherished value of religious freedom.”

+ Rand Paul has suspended his campaign for President.

+ Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention in 2012, 2008 or 2004 but to me, the weird media-specific drama of this election cycle feels unparalleled. What is going on. In the latest plot twist since Donald Trump sat out the Iowa GOP debate, Hillary and Bernie were invited to an “unsanctioned” Democratic debate on MSNBC, “unsanctioned” in the sense that it wasn’t the idea of the Democratic National Committee. Anyways, both candidates (Martin O’Malley has dropped out) have been hemming and hawing about whether they’ll accept the invite and debate, but Sanders has finally agreed and so that’s happening tonight! Before he opted in, Hillary was going to debate “with or without him,” and I sort of wish that had happened so I could see what a one-person debate looks like. Anyways, I guess I know what I’m doing tonight!

+ President Obama has received 136,000 signed petitions asking him to “to stop operations targeting Central American mothers and children for expedited deportation proceedings.”

Health/Reproductive Rights

+ Rick Scott, governor of Florida, has declared a state of emergency in the four FL counties where the Zika virus has been discovered.

+ A new documentary, No Más Bebés, delves into the US’s history of forced sterilization of poor women of color, mostly Latinas.

In the early and mid 1970s a young Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld, working in the obstetrics ward of the L.A. County USC Medical Center in the predominantly Latino Boyle Heights neighborhood of East L.A., began to notice that immigrant women, not fluent in English, were being pushed into tubal ligations while they were in the active late stages of labor. Several of the women in the film remember the moment, while being rushed into the operating room for an emergency C-section, that they were given a piece of paper, in English, to sign. Over several years, Dr. Rosenfeld covertly gathered proof of these sterilizations and sought out the help of a young Chicana attorney, Antonia Hernández, to bring a legal challenge. In 1978, after months of tracking down the women who had been sterilized, Hernández and her clients brought a lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, and asserted that their right to bear children had been violated by coercive sterilization. Anchoring the argument to Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut, Hernandez’ legal strategy was to prove that there is an established individual right to procreate. “No Más Bebés” tells the story of their fight to stop the practice of sterilization without consent.

+ Abortion was officially declared a human right in a case brought before the United Nations Human Rights committee. Ten years ago, a seventeen-year-old Peruvian woman was refused access to a medically indicated abortion; this week, the UN awarded her financial compensation and affirmation that she deserved access to an abortion when she needed it.


+ A UK lesbian mother has won her court battle against her former partner, who took their three-year-old daughter to Pakistan and denied her coparent visitation after their relationship ended. It’s significant that the plaintiff has won her case and been recognized as her daughter’s mother despite not being the gestational parent.

+ Kenneth Miller, the Mennonite pastor who helped ex-lesbian Lisa Miller kidnap her daughte r Isabella from her former partner and flee the country, was convicted and will serve a 27-month prison sentence.

+ In Indiana, a bill advocating for LGBT rights (but which didn’t include protections for trans people, choosing instead to defer discussion of them to a summer study committe) was allowed to die without going to a vote.

Freedom Indiana’s Chris Paulsen says she would have liked to have another six weeks to talk to legislators. But she says protecting gays and lesbians without covering trans Hoosiers wasn’t enough. Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says Democrats did offer to compromise, skirting the issue of wedding-related businesses by limiting the bill to employment and housing protections. But he says Democrats weren’t willing to exclude [trans people], and Republicans wouldn’t add them.

+ Sandra Merritt, one of the two anti-abortion activists who were indicted by the grand jury last week was offered probation to settle her charge. If she maintains a clean record during her probation, the charge could be dismissed. Merritt’s attorney has memorably called the indictment and the case “dumber than a bucket of hair.” Both Merritt and the other anti-abortion activist indicted, David Daleiden, are expected to turn themselves in.

+ Members of a high school wrestling team in Norman, Oklahoma are being charged with sexually assaulting two teammates on a bus. The victims were 12 and 16 years old. In the aftermath, “an adjunct coach responsible for supervising the students on the bus has been fired and a second has resigned.” Upsettingly, this is not the first time recently Norman has made the news for sexual assault. From Jezebel:

Norman is the same town where, as Jezebel reported last year, three teenage rape victims were bullied out of school at Norman High, the other large public high school, after they all reported being assaulted by the same person, 18-year-old Tristen Killman-Hardin. He pleaded no contest to raping one of them, an unconscious 16-year-old, and is currently serving 15 months in prison. He is slated for release on November 30, 2016.

+ Three black women, students at SUNY Albany, say that 10-12 white men and women screamed racial slurs at them and assaulted them on a bus headed to campus. There is reported to be cell phone footage of the assault, and police were interviewing 16 people in connection with the incident.


+ A new report finds that a record 149 people in the US were found to have been falsely convicted of a crime, with “nearly four in ten” being falsely convicted of murder.

+ A new report from the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that ICE is still detaining women, children and families in deportation raids, often using deceptive and misleading means to enter their homes and take them in. One reportedly used was to ask people to identify a photo of an African-American man implied to be a criminal as a ruse to get them to open their doors.

Beginning early January, the Obama administration detained a total of 121 people, deporting 77 of them within three days of apprehension and without allowing them to speak with a lawyer. Most of the raids happened in North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia, and targeted individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – which is facing intense poverty and violence.

+ A report from Grassroots Leadership shows that over 10,500 state prisoners are currently incarcerated in private prisons outside their home states, and that the number will likely increase — “West Virginia is moving forward with a plan that could move up to 400 prisoners to private out-of-state prisons.” The trend to relocate prisoners to out-of-state private prisons puts money in the pockets of the private prisons while making it difficult to impossible for incarcerated people to be visited by friends or family from their home, “[impeding] prisoner rehabilitation by diminishing prisoners’ ties to family and community, compromising rather than enhancing the public good.”

+ It’s always been suspected based on logic and anecdotal evidence that voter ID laws (ostensibly there to combat voter fraud, a crime which occurs extremely rarely) have the impact of keeping poor voters and/or voters of color away from the polls; now a new study confirms it.

“…the researchers found that in primary elections, “a strict ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 9.3 points, Black turnout by 8.6 points, and Asian American turnout by 12.5 points.” The impact of strict voter ID was also evident in general elections, where minority turnout plummeted in relation to the white vote. “For Latinos in the general election, the predicted gap more than doubles from 4.9 points in states without strict ID laws to 13.5 points in states with strict photo ID laws,” the study found. That gap increased by 2.2 points for African Americans and by 5 points for Asian Americans. The effect was even more pronounced in primary elections.”

Flint Water Crisis

+ The FBI, EPA and Congress are all trying to figure out who to blame for the water crisis in Flint, with Darnell Early, who was the emergency manager of Flint when they switched to the water supply which was since revealed to be poisonous, being forced via the threat of being “hunted down” by US Marshals to go to Congress and testify.

However, virtually no one OTHER than Darnell Early is being forced to testify, perhaps most notably Gov. Rick Snyder. Other than the director of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, no one else in city or state government is being asked to testify so far, which to some indicates a lack of interest on Congress’s part in pursuing the chain of responsibility all the way up the ladder. Republican representative Jason Chaffetz is organizing the hearings, and Democrats have sent him a letter asking him to rethink how they’re being done.

“Although we have made multiple requests for you to invite the Governor, to date you have neither invited him to testify nor provided a timeframe by which you might do so,” the letter reads. “There is no question that the Governor’s actions are directly relevant to the Committee’s investigation,” the Democrats write. “He championed the state law in 2011 giving him authority to appoint the emergency managers in Flint, his appointees oversaw the process to seek cost-savings by transitioning Flint off the Detroit water system and onto treated water from the Flint River, and his appointees overruled a vote by the Flint City Council in 2015 to return to Detroit water.” Some have also claimed that Snyder’s administration made the decision to switch the water source itself, and the administration has come under fire for leaked documents showing it sent bottled water to state employees in Flint long before water was made available to residents. Snyder’s own task force laid primary blame for the crisis with the state Department of Environmental Quality, and he himself said in his state of the state address that he takes “full responsibility.”

Grab Bag

+ Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson filed paperwork yesterday to run for mayor of Baltimore.

“Baltimore is at a moment,” Mckesson, who becomes the first of the prominent post-Ferguson activists to seek public office, said in a phone interview on Wednesday night. “I’m running to usher Baltimore into a new era where our government is accountable to its people and aggressively innovative in how it identifies and solves problems.”


+ In 2009, the high court of Delhi decriminalized homosexual sexual relations, a law that was a relic of colonial Britain. In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned Delhi’s ruling, effectively re-criminalizing homosexuality. Now, the Supreme Court says they’re going to revisit that decision, and calling it “a matter of constitutional importance.” That doesn’t mean it will necessarily be re-overturned, but they wouldn’t be revisiting it if there weren’t a chance of that. Also in India this week, a court ruled that women can legally head households, specifically that “the eldest female in a family [can] formally occupy a role traditionally inherited by men.”

+ The New York Times has a profile on Beit Simchat Torah, the NYC synagogue for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews, and how it’s finally getting a property that the synagogue itself owns so it can have a permanent home.

+ In a frightening incident, commentator and professor Melissa Harris-Perry was threatened by a strange man who mentioned Nazi Germany and demanded to know why she was allowed to be on MSNBC. You can read a full account from Melissa Harris-Perry here.

+ Australian members of parliament can now breastfeed in chambers at will, replacing the previous system wherein nursing members of parliament would leave the chamber and vote via proxy if they had to breastfeed.

+ Updates on the occupation at Oregon Malheur Wildlife Refuge, aspects of which are still ongoing. Four people, as of yesterday, were still occupying the refuge, and Ammon Bundy’s lawyers are crowdfunding for his legal fees; Bundy petitioned to be released with an ankle bracelet but a judge denied the request. The four remaining occupiers seem to have the support of Ammon’s father Cliven Bundy, and tensions are high between locals whose lives have been adversely affected by the occupation and supporters of it.

+ It’s been commonplace lately for Republican presidential candidates and pundits to call on Muslims around the world to speak out against ISIS/Daesh. ThinkProgress has a piece covering how often Muslims who do speak out against ISIS globally are brutally murdered as part of official ISIS policy and strategy, something which pundits don’t seem to be taking into account.

+ Tax documents show that while Chick-Fil-A pledged to stop pledging money to anti-LGBT causes, it’s still donating to a Christian athletics association with anti-gay messaging, including a “sexual purity” policy for its staff and even volunteers. Gross!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. Is it weird that I now want a Bernie photoshoot shirtless chopping wood and waxing his red 2011 Chevy in some weird putin-esque masculine fantasy?

  2. A very high number of sex workers are murdered in Brazil too, I wonder how these stats intersect…

    • An article I saw a few days ago about Brazil LGBT murders said that sex workers (25%) and hairdressers (16%) were the most common occupations for victims. Transgender victims made up 37% of LGBT murders, so it’s likely the majority were sex workers.

    • The assumption that all trans girls and young women do sex work has far reaching effects: police feel investigating murders or violence is a waste of time, attackers feel free to act with impunity and even brag about what they do, resources that would shield girls from dangerous situations are withheld or made unbearably difficult to access.

      In the United States, in the last decade, we have seen this assumption fall away for girls who are not black or native…and can see quite clearly the effect this assumption has on the safety of black and native girls with increased visibility of trans issues in the media.

  3. Has anyone ever done a statistical analysis on trans murders, especially in regards to mediatic representation? That is, does one murdered trans woman who happens to get a news blurb count for 10 unrepresented trans women? 20? To invoke Donald Rumsfeld, how much do we know we don’t know about murder of trans women?

    Thank you for covering the Flint water poisoning scandal, which has the outrageous infamy of apparently covering all the injustice bingo: capitalism, racism, political corruption, income inequality, direct corporate rule, and legitimated murder and brain damaging of children. USA! USA!

    As a neighbour of the Bundy clan, please accept the apologies of all rural Nevadans of good will. We know the true story out here: Cliven Bundy is a cattle and sheep rustler (in western terms, lower than pond scum). He has lied about his tenure on the land, his relationship to the starving, unbranded feral cattle he occasionally rustles, steals from the public coffers by not even paying the pittance asked in range fees, and is now apparently a lunatic terrorist prophet inaugurating a brave new biz-friendly future of direct corporate rule. Anyone who thinks the illegal, armed occupation and theft at Malheur does not affect them because they live in a city needs to seriously examine the issues – and rapid growth of organized Right Wing terror campaigns.

  4. There haven’t been 48 murders of trans women in Brazil in January. That is actually the official figure for murders of trans women in Brazil for all of 2015 taken from the totals listed on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

    The article you linked to has a number of errors. This report http://pt.calameo.com/read/0046502188e8a65b8c3e2 by a Brazil NGO is far more accurate (although these are unoffical figures)

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