Daily Fix: U.S. Marine Charged with Jennifer Laude’s Murder Claims “Trans Panic” and More News Stories

Hey moonbeans, here’s some news for you!

Order in the Court

+ U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who’s charged with the murder of Filipina transgender woman Jennifer Laude, testified in court on Monday and admitted to choking Laude unconscious but says he didn’t kill her. Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Flores said Pemberton and Laude checked into a motel to have sex and while in bed Pemberton found out Laude was transgender and pushed her away. Laude allegedly slapped him and then Pemberton punched her and choked her until she was unconscious. Pemberton then dragged her to the shower to revive her. Pemberton says she was still breathing before he left the motel room.


Jennifer Laude

There’s been a horrific crime committed here against a trans woman and the coverage is fucking garbage — I’m looking at you, NBC News. (They used “transgender” as a noun, used Laude’s former name, among other things.) It looks like the defense attorneys are going to try to use a “trans panic” defense. I just want to point you in the direction of Mari’s very relevant piece on how the media still refuses to grant trans women dignity even in the wake of their tragic deaths:

“Almost as frequently, the trope of trans-people-as-deceivers will be trotted out, and in that moment, we are transformed from victim to perpetrator. It will be said that those who assaulted us were victims of our ‘trickery,’ and it will be implied that the violence we endured was deserved and justified. And there, in the recitation of that tired trope, the beautiful authentic lives we’ve carefully carved out for ourselves are transformed to artifice for all those who read or hear the media’s story. The apocryphal identities we’ve worked so hard to shed are forcibly pressed back upon us as they were at birth. In a few short lines of text or seconds of news story, we’re stripped of our dignity for the terrible crime of daring to be ourselves too close to someone who was made uncomfortable by it. And just as quickly, a seriously misogynistic and transmisogynistic crime becomes a justifiable action.”

+ The ultra-Othrodox Israeli man who stabbed several people at Jerusalem’s Pride parade and killed a teenage girl has been charged with murder, along with multiple attempted murder charges. Yishai Schlissel had been released from prison a few weeks prior to the crime; he had served time for stabbing people at Jerusalem’s 2005 pride parade.

+ On Monday, Ferguson’s new municipal judge, Judge Donald McCullin, ordered the withdrawal of all arrest warrants issued before the end of last year. He also reinstated driver’s licenses that were suspended solely because the driver failed to appear in court or pay a fine. These changes may affect thousands of Ferguson residents who’ve racked up debt because of traffic violations and minor offenses.

Think Progress reports the city has a history of fining and criminalizing the poor, which mostly affects black citizens; mentioned by Think Progress is a report from ArchCity Defenders that estimates there were an average of three outstanding warrants in every household in Ferguson. A Justice Department report “revealed the city relied on its police force to raise revenue, even explicitly asking the police chief to step up traffic enforcement for financial reasons.”

+ A South Dakota state lawmaker has proposed a law that could require “visual inspection” be used as part of a process to officially determine a person’s gender. The proposal arose after a high school athletic group enacted a policy that allows students to decide which team they will compete with. Some lawmakers weren’t happy about it. The proposal from Rep. Roger Hunt would rely on official birth certificates and “visual inspections” for determining gender rather than allowing people to decide and declare their gender on their own.

Trans Youth and Science

+ In April, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas opened the Children & Adolescent Gender Clinic that specializes in transgender youth. The team of doctors have worked with 16 patients since the clinic’s opening, but they think the number will double after opening their services to adult patients in the coming months.

The team of doctors at El Paso's Children & Adolescent Gender Clinic.

The team of doctors at El Paso’s Children & Adolescent Gender Clinic.

“We never had anything like this in El Paso before,” Skip Rosenthal, a long-time LGBT activist, said. “If you were transgender in El Paso, you would probably not be under a doctor’s care at all. You would have to go to Juárez [Mexico] and get hormone shots or you would have to ingest them. You would see a lot of people in hormone therapy but not under a doctor’s care and that’s not really healthy.”

+ The New York Times published an op-ed by Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College on gender identity scientific research. And he got it all wrong, especially the parts where he talks about practices involving trans kids. The Vox debunks the column by pointing out that Friedman conflates gender identity and expression, that he incorrectly suggests that gender-affirming surgeries aren’t successful in treating “excess morbidity and mortality” among trans people, and “that parents and doctors might be right in letting children suffer from severe dysphoria just in case something changes down the line — and implies that conversion therapy (or “reparative therapy,” as he calls it) may be okay for trans children.”

Black Lives Matter

+ Black Lives Matter organizers across the country will hold rallies today to bring attention to the murders of black trans women which have skyrocketed this year. Aaryn Lang, a black trans woman based in New York who called on the Black Lives Matter chapters across the country to organize the rallies, said that cis black people need to stand up for black transgender lives.

“Black trans women have been strategizing with the leaders of this movement but when we get killed there’s no outrage. Now is the time to shut it down for black trans lives,” said Lang in a telephone interview on Monday.

Currently five cities are participating: Houston, Dayton, Nashville, Chicago, Columbus, and Washington D.C. You can also participate on Twitter using the hashtag #BlackTransLivesMatter.

+ Ferguson protestors and activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett and data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe launched Campaign Zero, “a comprehensive plan to end police violence,” last week. The campaign offers ten policy solutions to tackling the problematic structures that have plagued police violence for so long. They include:
CampaignZeroTheir website also includes a tracking tool on where the 2016 presidential nominees stand on their policy solutions. Read more about Campaign Zero’s solutions on their website.

Grab Bag

+ Starting September 1st, a new Texas state law will guarantee all public employees, including state and county workers and public school teachers, accommodations to pump breast milk in the workplace. Those accommodations include sufficient break times and a private room where employees will be able to pump breast milk. Federal law already requires employers to provide accommodations for hourly workers but not for salaried workers.

+ Some freshman dude at Duke University refused to read Alison Bechdel’s award-winning graphic novel Fun Home, saying it compromises his Christian beliefs to read it. Fun Home was selected as the freshman summer reading book. I mean, I want to say a lot of things like wtf, you’re in college, you’re there to learn, ok, dude but he’s probably going to believe all the garbage his conservative parents taught him for the rest of his life unless he has a truly, transformative learning experience at said university but he can’t do that unless he’s open to reading a goddamn beautiful graphic novel by a lesbian.

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Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at yvonnesmarquez.com.

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.


  1. Re: “Order On The Court”
    I wonder, if, as a trans woman, if I discover that a guy I am about to sleep with is actually a giant ass hat, can I choke him out of “Giant Ass Hat Panic” and get away with it?

    • Maybe since there are no laws in the books baring that. Or better yet, everyone follow California’s lead & ban the use of trans panic(& gay panic cause that’s still a thing in many states).

  2. Why are law makers always so interested in other peoples genitals? Can they not get a porn mag or browse porntube at their D.C. or state office? Maybe we should make it a law that law makers can view porn for free anytime they want. Also, I am pretty sure there are intersex people with X(or is it O) on their birth certificate; so, how is that going to work there?

  3. The Vox article is helpful, but not quite as much as it could be. First, it disregards one of the most obvious reason why the now-common transphobic reliance on that Swedish study (supposedly to show that trans people’s suicide rates continue to be astronomically high, compared to cis people’s, after gender confirmation surgery) is completely misplaced. Even apart from the other factors, according to the study itself, the post-surgery suicide rates were unusually high only for those who had surgery before 1989. Not at all for those having surgery since then. See this very helpful piece by Zack Ford on ThinkProgress yesterday:


    “Friedman also fails to mention that the mortality rate in the study was only statistically significant for people who underwent surgery before 1989. For all those who had their surgery after that (1989–2003), the increased mortality was not statistically significant.”

    See also this earlier article by Ford, on the same subject: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/06/22/3672506/transgender-suicide-rates/

    By the way, people should be aware that for much the same reason, the equally common claim by transphobes (especially TERFs) that the Swedish study supposedly proves that trans women commit violent crimes at the same rate as cis men, is also false. To quote the study itself, which can be found at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885:

    “Transsexual individuals were at increased risk of being convicted for any crime or violent crime after sex reassignment (Table 2); this was, however, only significant in the group who underwent sex reassignment before 1989.”

    Getting back to the Vox article, it also disregards one of the most important reasons why the famous Green “feminine boys” study from back in the 1960s doesn’t constitute valid proof that “most” gender dysphoric children grow up to identify as gay, not trans: there was no long-term follow-up, and it’s my understanding that in recent years, several former participants who supposedly turned out “only” to be gay have come forward to say that they eventually did turn out to be trans after all. Back in the 1960s/1970s, after all, it was even harder to admit you were trans than it is now, and saying that you were gay was a lot easier.

    • I actually am at the same institution as Friedman, as a student, and almost everyone I know who has gone to him has found him incredibly helpful. But he’s quite a conservative therapist as far as treatment goes, which may be getting him into trouble here.

      The issue with putting an article like this out is that transphobes will undoubtedly misconstrue the evidence put forth in the article. It’s so important at this crossroads, even for a clinician with the best intentions for relieving gender dysphoria for their trans* patients, to watch what’s being said and not give people reason to doubt the validity of treatment that relieves dysphoria.

      Also, Friedman relies on the studies without considering the context in which they were done, which is equally as important as what their findings were. And it’s unfortunate because he clearly has just been trying to understand how best to treat his patients but all the conflicting data out there has got to be difficult to sift through, as a professional. So maybe we need a better body of studies, since so many of the studies cited seem to be terribly done or motivated by ignorance and transphobia… just sayin’…

      • Also I forgot to mention he is not a gender therapist so he really should not have been commenting on this in the first place.

  4. Trans panic is such a bullshit excuse. Even if finding the person you’re about to have sex with has genitals you weren’t expecting is soooo incredibly shocking to you, that still means your first instinct upon being shocked was to murder a human being. That makes you a murderer, not a victim.

    • I agree, but that’s now how people see it or else California wouldn’t be the only state to have it banned. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  5. Karmic justice would be his getting sexually assaulted and then choked to death when he inevitably winds up in prison in the Philippines.

    • I don’t believe in advocating prison rape as revenge on rapists. Rape is never a good thing.

      But I have to admit that I wouldn’t shed a whole lot of tears if he died.

  6. I want to say a lot of things like wtf, you’re in college, you’re there to learn, ok, dude but he’s probably going to believe all the garbage his conservative parents taught him for the rest of his life unless he has a truly, transformative learning experience at said university but he can’t do that unless he’s open to reading a goddamn beautiful graphic novel by a lesbian.

    I love you.

  7. Philippine Police at the scene of the crime said Jennifer Laude had had her face stuffed in the toilet. Moreover, she met Pemberton at a bar frequented by other trans women.

    The Friedman piece is yet another example that someone at the NY Times Op Ed editorial staff is a major transphobe. The Times recently featured another essay stating no minor should be allowed any form of medicalized transition (including puberty blockers) and how everyone should have to wait to medically transition until their brains are fully formed in their mid-20s. Not to mention the recent Elinor Burkett diatribe about Caitlynn Jenner. Someone at the Times has a clear agenda against the trans community and I’d like to find out who it is.

      • I don’t know anything about him, or whether he’s the person I heard about (see my comment below), but I certainly remember his loathsome father, who, as I recall, was responsible for the Times’s refusal to use the word “gay” until about 1986. Ugh.

        • Yes, Abe Rosenthal was directly responsible for the unending homophobic content at the Times from the 60s-late 90s, totally ignoring Stonewall and most of the gay rights movement and for their truly terrible coverage of the AIDS epidemic. (remember, the Times primary readership is in Westchester County, Southern Connecticut, Northern New Jersey burbs and parts of Long Island). His son is supposed to be quite the mediocre chip-off-the-old-block and a total tool.

          ‘Balanced coverage’ is a load of garbage. Where was their balanced coverage in the 40 years they had virtually no notice of trans issues and in the early 2000s when they regularly had transphobic “experts” (like Paul McHugh) and reparative therapist commentators as the prime trans content in the paper? The paper of record has a horrible history of homophobic/transphobic reporting and they’re continuing the tradition. The sad part is how any garbage they publish becomes instantly legitimized and reprinted and linked to because it’s in that rag.

    • I have heard second-hand that this isn’t exactly so, but that the editor of the Times editorial page has an unfortunate belief in the “on the one hand, on the other hand,” “balanced coverage” nonsense when it comes to trans issues. Which is why for every positive story or op-ed piece about trans people in the Times (and there have been quite a few recently), there seems to be one of these.

      And this stance must be generally popular with the Times commentariat, given the overwhelmingly hostile tone (as I see it) of the comments on every trans-related story.

      • Some of the worst transphobic comments I’ve ever read have been in the Times and Slate.com.

  8. Yvonne, I hope I’m not stepping on your toes or something but I got the impression Fun Home was just one of the titles on the freshman reading list and what that kid was making a fuss about was simply the fact it was on the list.

    He was making a stand, a point that people with his “Christian values” exist and to have such book on a summer reading list was treating them like they didn’t exist.
    There was also some whining about peer pressure to “fit in” for people with his values.

    I mean look at what he said:

    “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Brian Grasso wrote on the Duke University Class of 2019 Facebook page, a closed group. He cited its “graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” as part of his reason. “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind,” he added. “It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”

    from: http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2015/08/freshmen-skipping-fun-home-for-moral-reasons

    As much as it makes my eyes roll it would indeed make more sense for him to be fussing if Fun Home was part of a mandatory assignment, but no it appears his fussing that it was merely on the list as an option because it made him feel like Duke didn’t realise homophobia is a part of someone’s value system.

    I got the impression reading Fun Home was an optional thing from this:

    I’m the special ed child of a library science degree haver, former 7th teacher and former public library worker. I can get a bit obsessive about literary liberty and slippery slopes with academia.

  9. United States military in a foreign land is doing more harm than good. Send them home. Say no to deployment.

  10. You’re a Marine…a member of a branch of the military that prides itself on extreme levels of self discipline, yet the sight of genitalia you weren’t expecting (side eye) made you beat someone to death. I hope they throw the book at you.

    This is basic human decency. If you don’t want to have sex with someone, leave. If you feel you were assaulted or coerced, report it. That’s it. Nothing else is acceptable, except in real self defense, which we all know this isn’t. The fact that this isn’t an open and shut case is degrading to the victim.

    • From what I understand the US military relations with the Philippines were rocky before this heinous crime so that probably aided in the decision to force the Marine to be tried through the Filipino courts. Pemberton needs to be made an example of and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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