While our minds this Domestic Violence Awareness Month keep going to back to domestic violence, and the efforts to end that form of violence against women, we remember, too, that domestic violence is just one of the many forms taken by the spectre of violence. Every form of violence has a gender dimension, since we human beings, who practice it as perpetrators and victims, actors and onlookers, never are apart from gender.
Sometimes (as with the violence of war) we forget to notice the deeply gendered character of the violence.
Sometimes (as with domestic violence between partners, which is overwhelmingly male-doer, female-sufferer violence) we resist acknowledging the gendered character of the violence. [It’s not uncommon in conversations about the gender issues involved in domestic violence to hear someone say “But, what about men who are battered? What about women who abuse their partners?” And after acknowledging that this phenomenon exists, we have to ask ourselves, what motivates us to turn aside from the statistic that about twice as many women as men suffer partner violence, and that women typically suffer more serious and sustained violence from their male partners than men do from their female partners.]
Sometimes, gender itself is at the heart of the violence. When transgender people die, at the hands of assailants whose identities are most often never learned, there are reasons to believe that the embodiment of transgender itself is what put these people in danger. Gender difference itself becomes the problem. The deep-seated conviction that gender fits a neat, invariant, this-or-that scheme does not hold up in the court of empirical evidence. But the violence directed against transgender folk shows that some would rather suppress the evidence, even violently, to save the clarity of the scheme.
Against that violence, we are called to affirm truth, however challenging it may be to culturally comfortable categories. This year, LPTS will once again host a community observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, on Thursday, November 20, along with opportunities for learning and discussion during the preceding week.