You may have heard about it by now. Or maybe not. There haven't exactly been that many news stories about it.
On Wednesday, April 22, Allen Andrade was convicted of the bias crime murder of Angie Zapata, which occurred in July of last year, as well as the theft of a car and a credit card. He received the mandatory sentence of life without parole.
I wrote about the trial last week, while it was still going on. You can read that here if you are so inclined.
I wish I could say I felt some degree of satisfaction about this. But I don't. Surrounding the trial has been so much lack of communication and absence of understanding that I feel like going into my room and never emerging again.
Non-transsexual people are, in some cases, trying to be helpful with what they are trying to share. Most often what I have read has fallen short of that mark.
Before I get to the cause of my heartache, let's have a run through some of the words from earlier in the week:
Me speaking as a mom, it hurts so bad. I feel so alone. If it wasn't for the rest of my children, I don't know. I just feel so alone sometimes. Mr. Andrade, he has the opportunity to have his family, to talk, to see them, to write to them. He didn't leave me that opportunity with my baby. He took my baby away from me. Such a selfish act. The one thing he can never ever take away is the love and the memories that me and my children will have with my baby. My beautiful, beautiful baby.
--Maria Zapata, mother of the victim
I think it's important everybody know Mr. Andrade is not some kind of monster, as has somewhat been portrayed.
--Annette Kundelius, defense attorney
I will say, Mr. Andrade, I hope as you're spending the remaining part of your natural life in the department of corrections...that you every day think about the violence and the brutality that you caused on this fellow human being. And the pain you have caused not only your family, but the family of Angie Zapata.
--Judge Marcelo Kopcow
The complete words of her brother, after the sentencing, speaking for the family, are in the youtube. A truncated version is in the blockquote.
Angie was my sister. She was a member of our family. We loved her very much and we will miss her every day. Every day and every night, my mom has to deal with the great pain that she saw one of her babies being buried.
Angie was brave. She had guts, had courage and was beautiful, was fun and was loving.
Life was sometimes difficult for her. We learned along with her, to learn she was born a girl with a body that was wrong for her.
This week, we are deeply saddened and angry as we witness graphic details about the last few minutes of my sister's life. A big brother is supposed to protect ...
[...breaks down and starts crying. His mother gripped him tighter.]
I got it. A big brother's supposed to protect his little sister. It breaks my heart to think there was nothing I could do to protect my little sister.
Only a monster can look at a beautiful 18-year-old and beat her to death. This monster not only hit my sister but continued to beat her head in over and over and over and over again until her head was crushed in and then left her there to die.
He'll never understand how angry we are at him and how much he has hurt us.
We will always love you, Angie. And we will always miss you, mija.
What has had me upset is typified by this passage from the defense summation:
Justin Zapata lived like a female, looked like a female, sounded like a female," said one lawyer, Annette Kundelius. "That’s what Mr. Andrade believed. And when he found it wasn’t Angie, it was actually Justin, he lost control."
The press did its part as well:
Seated in the front row of the courtroom, the family of Justin "Angie" Zapata broke out in tears as the verdicts against Allen Andrade were read.
--Jim Spellman, CNN
I guess I should be fair to Mr. Spellman. The above comment has been scrubbed and replaced with this:
Seated in the front row of the courtroom, the family of Angie Zapata broke out in tears as the verdicts against Allen Andrade were read Wednesday.
Someone somewhere seems to found an ounce of compassion and understanding. One wonders if it was the author.
But the question that sticks with me...and will do so forever is, "Why?"
Why does everyone have to do this? Why did the lawyers and the press feel the need to use her former name. If you think it has to do with the fact that she had yet to go through the process of legally changing it, I have news for you. That has never, in my experienced ever stopped anyone who knows our birth names from sharing them to all and sundry of they so desire.
It's a huge power-over trip. We transwomen may have a volumes of information about and analysis of sex and gender and transsexuality, but the experts are whoever thinks they are one.
So we hear it all again, and again and again and again: transwomen are deceptive. We are liars. If we look attractive...as Angie clearly did...we are lying about our identities because people can't tell at a glance that we were declared male at birth. If you can tell that we were "born male" then we are liars because we are really "men in dresses."
You tell me how we can win this game of Morton's Fork.
We know that if we wear signs in public that say "Transsexual woman", it is equivalent to wearing a sign that says, "Kill Me!" And we know that somewhere out there is a violent man with our name on him, someone who only needs the slightest excuse to murder one of us and make the world a better place for doing it.
All because people who once upon a time were identified as male are regarded as forever men. Just like Hispanic people whose families have been in the American southwest will be forever called wetbacks and people with a single drop of "Negro blood" are black.
What is a woman? Apparently the definition is, "someone who was never a man." If that is what you believe then we will never be able to be people...real human beings...to you. If hormones don't matter, body morphology doesn't matter, appearance doesn't matter, and behavior doesn't matter, then you have created a game we cannot win. Like entropy, we can't even break even.
If you think that being a woman is all about the ability to make babies, the feminist in me is appalled. Women are not human reproduction machines. We are people.
We may not be able to win or to break even, but we damn sure are not getting out of the game...not just to please you. The purpose my life will never be to make you acknowledge your superiority and bow to your power.
And if...or more probably when...another of us is murdered, it most certainly will not be her own damned fault. We are not "asking for it" by being transwomen. We are not "being deceptive" just because we are living our lives.
We're asking for an equal shot of living freely in the society you have constructed.
There are those among you who think that is far too much to ask.