I am not going to lie, after reading Dean Spade’s first chapter in Normal Life my brain was a little overwhelmed. Filled with statistics concerning various types of discrimination and injustice, Spade makes it a point to prove how flawed our country is. He begins by discussing imprisonment and how much of it is done to those who do not fall under the hetero-male white privilege umbrella. He notes how the War on Drugs and War on Terrorism provide a useful scapegoat when it comes to arresting minorities. He also points out the flaws in which we think we are attempting to better our society. For example, he says that, “Focus on gay marriage ignores how race, class, ability, indigenetity, and immigration status determine access to those benefits.” And when it comes to trans folk, the discrimination only gets worse. Homelessness, loss of jobs, and loss of benefits are major problems for a trans person. Though we have already read articles about these very things, I decided to do some research via social media to see if it had garnered recognition to this level. I found this twitter account: https://twitter.com/TransEquality and read some of the posts concerning unjustice and crime done to trans folk. Though most posts were sad and disturbing, it was hopefully seeing just how many followers and activity the account had.
Getting further into the book, Spade focuses his next chapter on how the rights being fought for concerning trans equality. The two main law form interventions, anti-discrimination laws and hate crime laws, would not only prevent discrimination but it would also “increase positive trans ability”. In this chapter he mentions early forms of protest for trans rights. The Compton’s Cafeteria riot intrigued me so I decided to find the story and put it here for everyone to read if interested: http://www.gaylesbiantimes.com/?id=17476. But Spade brought about an interesting question when discussing these laws: will the discrimination even stop? Civil rights laws didn’t stop discrimination toward African Americans so why should these laws be any different? Will discrimination ever end? I liked when Spade said that hate crimes prove the failure in our legal system. He goes on to saying that the perpetrator perspective is wrong and that the conception of oppression is wrong. This is where I got a little lost because then he went on to saying that hate crimes enforce the criminal punishment system…but that is a bad thing because the overpopulated jails are a problem. But without punishment how will this discrimination end? Should there be alternative consequences to stop these actions, and if so how can they be enforced and effective? I understand his concern with how the law problematically treats these issues, but when trying to think of other ways to stop injustice and crime I couldn’t really think of an alternative solution. Ultimately, I think that the push towards both these laws can be achieved and better the lives of many trans folk, but the deeper issues that remain will be harder to conquer.
– Colleen Griffin