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Gay and Transgender Panic Defense

The Excuse for the Assault on the Trans and Queer Communities

Photo by Joshua Stitt on Unsplash

In the last decade, there has been a defense mechanism used by people who have committed crimes against trans and queer people. It is known as the "Gay and Trans Panic Defense."

The Gay and Trans Panic Defense is a legal defense against charges of assault or murder involving attacks on gay and transgender individuals. Those who use this defense mechanism claim that they acted in a state of violent, temporary insanity because of unwanted advances from an individual who may or may not be homosexual. This defense is also used by those who make claims that transgender people did not reveal their gender identity or biological sex prior to or post sexual relations.

Although this defense is legal, it is highly problematic. The Gay and Trans Panic Defense is an excuse for bad behavior by those who assault or murder queer and trans people. This is negating the fact that a person could have thought before performing an action that not only affects them but the person that the said action is directed to. If someone is heterosexual or not attracted to trans people, then they should be able to say "I'm not interested," or "Sorry, please leave me alone." There are civil ways to handle the alleged advances.

The Gay and Trans Panic Defense shouldn't even be a legal defense. It is telling homophobic and transphobic people that they are not accountable for their actions.

With the rise in attacks against trans people, we see that it is often due to some sort of attraction and the fear of the attraction being exposed as dating a transperson. The fact that they "didn't know that the person was transgender" is a bold faced lie. Trans-attracted individuals seek out transpeople for sexual pleasure and fetishization and to cover their activities they often kill or assault the transperson to keep their secret attraction from slipping out. Their actions and the Gay, Trans Panic defense does nothing to help the visibility or acceptance of transgender people.

The Transgender Panic Defense adds to the myth that trans people are deceiving or tricking cisgender individuals. The reality is that trans people are sought out by curious individuals or by people who are tricking them into robbing them or setting them up to kill them.

Since this defense is so problematic states such as California and Illinois are no longer using this defense as a legal defense for obvious hate crimes. Recently, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Joe Kennedy, both Massachusetts Democrats are pushing legislation that will bring death to the use of the so-called "Gay Panic" and "Trans Panic" Defense. The "Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act" of 2018 is designed to prohibit defense lawyers from using a victim's orientation or gender identity as a justification for a crime. This act also prohibits the ability to argue for a lesser sentence on the premise that there were extenuating circumstances that caused their clients to lash out violently in the name of fear.

Sexual orientation or gender identity is never an excuse for violence. Gay and Trans Panic Legal Defenses reflect an unrealistic fear, hatred, and bigotry towards LGBT members of this world. "These defenses must be prohibited to ensure that all Americans are treated with dignity and humanity in our justice system," Senator Markey states. These defenses must ensure that all Americans are treated like humans beings. Such defenses are a reflection of outdated thinking.

It is 2018. LGBT people are reflected in the media, the arts, and in politics. With the rise of LGBT candidates and officeholders in the 2018 election year, the Gay and Trans Panic Prohibition Act has a backing could make it into law. With the introduction of the Gay and Trans Panic Prohibition Act, a new era has arrived. Discrimination against the LGBT community will no longer be tolerated.

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Gay and Transgender Panic Defense
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