More Brain Droppings From Jenni
April 15, 2009
No Match, No Job, No Surgery
June 2, 2009

Hate Crime Blood Lust

To those that use Angie Zapata’s death as a way to “raise” your profile by covering the trial, shame on you. I have to agree with Brielle over at Women In Love.

“Anyone who presents a rational ideology to empower the lgbt as a whole is basically ignored. People want blood. It’s the only thing that really draws their attention. We want liberation! we want free speech! (Please coat with blood first though, thanks)The dozens of sites that routinely re-post blogs that have violence against transgender in the headlines: These are Transgender ambulance chasers, trying to get tweets and clicks on their stat totals for the day.  Are they under the delusion that they are providing some kind of service to trans folk?”

I’ve resisted posting about the trial, because I don’t see how it will add anything to the case. It’s being broadcast nationwide and my commentary on the trial won’t bring anything to light that hasn’t already been talked about.

What bothers me most is that the blog coverage so far has been the “hey, look at me, I’m like Angie“. When I think on Brielle’s wording, I think about the self-aggrandizement covered in the blood of this hate crime victim. It makes me want to vomit. It’s not all about you. Is this what a reporter does? Thank the gods, I’m not one of them. I’m a blogger, and I’ll always be a blogger. That way, I can still have ethics. I can still choose what stories to cover, and how to cover them. And I don’t have to cover myself in the blood of hate crime victims to get my 15 minutes of fame. It’s a shame you do.

Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey is the founder of the Transadvocate and the previous managing editor. Abernathey has worn many different hats, including that of podcaster, activist, and radiologic technologist. She's been a part of various internet radio ventures such as TSR Live!, The T-Party, and The Radical Trannies, TransFM, and Sodium Pentathol Sunday. As an advocate she's previously been involved with the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Rock Indiana Campaign for Equality, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She's taken vital roles as a grass roots community organizer in The Indianapolis Tax Day Protest (2003), The Indy Pride HRC Protest (2004), Transgender Day of Remembrance (2004), Indiana's Witch Hunt (2005), and the Rally At The Statehouse (the largest ever GLBT protest in Indiana - 3/2005). In 2008 she was a delegate from Indiana to the Democratic National Convention and a member of Barack Obama's LGBT Steering and Policy Committee.
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  • I wasn’t comparing the lives of Autumn and Angie.

    Autumn has received much attention, yes, but I think it has raised the awareness of the Zapata case and trial. This may have a positive effect on the pending federal hate crimes legislation. We will see. And she was present to speak during a “teachable moment” of the struggles many trans people face, and that she has personally faced. Personally, I think it took a lot of courage to go to the trial. I wouldn’t sign up for that gig.

    I’m not sure that I follow why her privileges are relevant to covering the case. Besides, IMHO, transitioning young is a privilege, so things are not quite so clear-cut. The real privilege on the table in this case was the privilege to life, and from what I could tell, Autumn made it quite clear that she was happy to be alive and that other transpeople deserve not to meet Angie’s fate.

    I never stated who I think the real oppressors are, but I was referring primarily to promoters of institutional oppression against trans people: churches, republicans, and the american psychological association. But don’t think for a minute that I am somehow unaware how cruel and hateful transwomen – in particular – can be to one another. Plenty of transphobia in the community too, particularly among those most able to live “normal” lives who then disappear into the woodwork in real life, only ‘coming out’ via their keyboards to bitch about some man in a dress on TV. Yea Marti, I know all about it.

  • Marti, I’m sorry, but I didn’t get the same read from the reporting of the trial. I’m happy Autumn was there. In my opinion she did a wonderful job.

    While it’s certainly true that Autumn and Angie had very different lives, to make the claim that Autumn was somehow trying to capitalize off of Angie’s death is just ludicrous. I don’t have any problem with journalism that is intermixed with opinion. The reality is that all news is run through a filter anyway, usually the status quo, male, patriarchy filter. But with Autumn, at least we got the trans filter. The one that can relate-to and connect-to to the crime that was committed. That meant a lot to me personally, so I respectfully disagree with your viewpoint.

    Just my $0.02, but I think this whole discussion should be scrapped, and folks should start paying attention to the people who are doing the real oppression.

    • Marti Abernathey

      You’re free to have your opinion, but it’s not ludicrous. Even in her responses here, it’s not about her reporting but about her person. And Autumn’s life, as traumatic as it was, is not even close to that of a transitioned Latina teen. There’s so many privileges involved, age of transition and color for starters. You want ludicrous, comparing the two… that’s ludicrous. You claiming who the “real oppressors” are, is ludicrous (and creepily similar to that of feminists that say other feminists can’t be oppressors).

  • Pam Spaulding

    Marti (this is the second time posting this comment),

    I have a great deal of respect for you; but I disagree strongly with your assertions here. Autumn didn’t pitch for this trial; ProgressNowColorado asked ME to cover it, and I couldn’t, and offered the opportunity to Autumn. Would I have been grandstanding for clicks and hits in my coverage? Was that true of PHB contributors when we were selected to cover the Dem National Convention? Where is the line drawn? I didn’t pitch our coverage of this trial with press releases on mailing lists because this wasn’t about promoting the blog.

    The fact is I warned Autumn that this would “raise her profile” in the media (that cannot be helped) because she would be the only trans reporter on the ground in Greeley. That wasn’t a boast — it cuts both ways when people want a piece of you because they are woefully ignorant about a subject.

    As I told another reader who was critical: all of the reporting was for the purpose of highlighting the pain suffered by the Zapata family and to bring a perspective to the coverage that has always been missing in the MSM. That the coverage was significant in the wake of the hate crimes bill being marked up, and to show the base kind of defense tactics that dehumanized Angie Zapata.

    None of these goals are tied to Autumn at all; whether it was Autumn or another transgender blogger, my argument would be the same — how can the traditional LGB press completely ignore the precedent setting work with the MSM on the ground to correct and educate the press to shape how transgender issues are covered? I know here at the Blend we would have covered this angle had it been someone there from another blog — the issue is important.

    Clearly the MSM understood how a trans reporter’s perspective could improve their coverage — thus all the interviews and air time she received while there. That it’s Autumn, who did a terrific job is great, but I would have been thrilled to see any good transgender citizen journalist help pave the way during this trial. This is about the larger community and moving the equality bar forward. For whatever reasons, the LGB press and many blogs missed the opportunity to acknowledge this and that’s too bad.

    • Marti Abernathey

      I never said Autumn pitched for this trial, because I’m very aware of what the folks at PNC did.

      The line is drawn with the blood of one of our sisters. Think about if Wayne Besen or another high profile blogger/writer compared himself to Matthew Sheppard or you compared yourself to Sakia Gunn. As a queer person, I’d be just as horrified. Angie Zapata may be just a means to an end for you, but she represents my best friend to me. Ethan St. Pierre’s Aunt, Debra Forte, was brutally murdered and that changed my friend in ways that will never go away. Angie Zapata’s family will never see their sister, daughter, family member, or friend, ever again. Angie Zapata is more than just an angle, she’s a victim. She’s not someone build the most “important day of my life” upon. I don’t know anyone that would view reporting on a community hate crime as such… well, except one person.

      I’m not sure how Autumn’s life and Angie’s life even compare. Autumn spent most of her life with white male privilege, something Angie never knew, even one day of her life. Again, this trial wasn’t about Autumn, but about the brutal murder of one of our own. But you’d never be able to tell it from the content of her blog posts.

      Lastly, it was a shame that the trial was covered better from the Greeley Tribune, than by “one of our own.” You may be proud of her work, but frankly I’m embarrassed for her. I’ve had people privately contact me and agree with what I wrote and I’ve also heard (on Ethan St. Pierre’s most recent broadcast) other people who encountered Autumn in Colorado or who read her posts, and agree with me. They are embarrassed and disappointed. I’m just the shmoe blogger that will say what quite some people are thinking.

  • catkisser

    Sandeen, you are about as much of a “journalist” as Fox News is fair and balanced and for the exact same reasons. You are a blogger, and not a particularly good one either. Marti and I have had plenty of disagreements over the years but she labels her opinions as such and lays no phony claims to being anything but what she is. You, on the other hand, silence totally without ruth any opinions at odds with your own you can. You hypocritically violate your own self declared “principles” whenever you personally dislike individuals and their ideas by slamming them wholesale and refusing to allow honest debate or disagreement. You use your “journalistic platform” to slander and libel like some Beck wannabe. You shamelessly used the death of a transwoman to self promote.

    You are a ghoul, a vampire, an eater of the flesh of your own.

    You are not a journalist in any fashion that has meaning.

  • Y’know, you have my cell number. If at any point you wanted to ask me about the trial, including how I came to cover the trial from Greeley, and why I took used the methods and practices I did to cover the trial, you could have called.

    To accuse me of self-promotion without getting comment from me for your piece — when you have my contact information and could have learned my take on why I was taking the tac I did for the trial — means you didn’t do your due dilligence.

    Even if I didn’t change you mind on my motives, you at least should have taken the time to get a statement from me. You had the ability to, and you didn’t — That says something about your journalistic chops, Marti.

    • Marti Abernathey

      This wasn’t about your opinions, but your coverage. Obviously your extensive training as a “journalist” didn’t educate you on the difference between an opinion piece/commentary and reporting. There is no “due diligence” required when doing a commentary.

      I didn’t need spin from you to prove the obvious, I simply used your own words. Furthermore, your compatriot over at PHB used the words “opportunity” when talking about the trial. I think that says it all. I’m not a journalist, and I’m not playing “chops”. This isn’t a game, a pretend career, or a case of “guess who knows me” for me, but an expression of my compassion and love for our community. I’m a blogger and it’s all I’ll ever be. The facts are obvious, even to someone that doesn’t quite like me.

  • I am totally elated that this S.O.B. was found guilty of first degree murder. I think it is just one more victory for The TS community. My heart goes out to Angie’s family. Lord knows this dont take away the hurt of losing her. I do think in some way though it may help her family knowing that Angie was not seen as some freak by the jury, but as a young woman. It’s so terrible that there is a minority of people out there though that see us as somehow less than human. If this day brings clearity to just one of them that we are just the same as everyone else, then that is one more step of progress for us. To you all, have a wonderful day. Angie rest easy, justice has been done.