Target: Rep. Steve Stockman (R) of Texas
Goal: Rebuke Steve Stockman’s transphobic comments concerning the Violence Against Women Act.
Many conservative politicians have voted against and opposed the Violence Against Women Act. Reasons for opposition to the bill have varied, but in many cases, conservatives have complained that the bill protects too many classes of people, including immigrant women, who very frequently need the kinds of protections that the bill affords them. Now, Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas has added his opposition to the bill on the grounds that it offers protection to human beings whose identities he invalidates.
According to Stockman, the Senate version of the bill, with its protections against homophobic and transphobic violence, is “truly [a] bad bill.” His argument for why this is a bad bill is transphobic. “What really bothers — it’s called a women’s act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that — how is that a woman?”
Transgender women are at increased risk for sexual violence and aggression of all kinds. So many transgender people, particularly trans* women, are murdered each year that there is a “Transgender Day of Remembrance” to honor the memory of dead trans* people. When people (often cisgender men) murder trans* women, they very frequently cite the “trans* panic defense” as their justification. This disgusting “defense” posits that trans* women are “really” men who are deceiving them (the perpetrator of the violence) and threatening their heterosexuality. The trans* panic defense assumes that straight men’s feeling of comfort in their heterosexuality trumps even the right of trans* women to exist.
By putting forth the idea that trans* women are not “really” women, Steve Stockman is contributing to a narrative which de-legitimizes trans* identity and, in its extreme conclusion, blames trans* women for the violence enacted against them by a transphobic and transmisogynistic society. Sign this petition to oppose Stockman’s comments and the ideology that such comments represent.
Dear Steve Stockman,
Recently, you complained that the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act offers protections to transgender women. You have asked, “How is that a woman?” To better answer your question, I would advocate doing some study of gender identity, but a short and simple explanation is that gender identity resides in the brain, not in an individual’s genitalia.
Trans* identity has been shown on brain scans, and considering that the sexually dimorphic nature of human beings in the womb — wherein “male” and “female” are not so distinct in the first place — it is not surprising that a certain amount of overlap occurs in nature in which some men are born with “female” parts or some women with “male” parts. A trans* woman is indeed a woman who was originally born with “male” parts. However, by living as a woman, she is just at much at risk of sexual violence or other forms of violence as any other woman is.
In fact, she is often much more at risk because of people like you who de-legitimize her identity. De-legitimizing trans* people and arguing that they do not deserve protection subtly promotes a culture of violence against trans* people, particularly transfeminine people. Comments like yours indicate the very reason that these classes of women need special protection.
[Your Name Here]