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it was only a trans man…college admin does nothing regarding a violent trasphobic attack

April 23, 2010

At California State University in Long Beach a trans student was attacked on campus. [1] Here are statements made by two people that were included in a message I received regarding the event.

I shared with some folks that recently California State University Long Beach has had a pretty serious anti-LGBTQ response to a Chicana Feminisms conference that was hosted there about a month ago. The conference was organized by the student group Conciencia Femenil. The attacks came in the form of remarks made on the student newspaper (online) that included calling the conference organizers “a bunch of lesbians hiding under the guise of feminism”, calling Alma Lopez a “fucking idiot” and her art sacrilegious, Cherrie Moraga a “perverted dyke”, the conference an “abomination” , stating that “lesbians and homosexuals . . . . practice their abominable sexual perversions [and] want to be able to destroy the religions which oppose them,” and finally . . . a call to murder all LGBTQ folks under Aztec Law, and specifically noting the *way in which they should be murdered*.

There was a recent escalation of the violence at csulb, we’re gathering with some new students to talk about how to organize against the stuff we’ve been dealing and this new attack: a trans student left class thu night to go to the bathroom and on the way there was assaulted by someone who knew him by name but whom he didnt know. he beat him and threw him against a wall then carved “It” on his chest with a knife.

This horrifying incident highlights a number of issues. It simultaneously illuminates that homophobia is rampant as well as the fact that politically correct institutional responses to  gays and lesbians do not transcend to issues of transphobia. Long Beach, California is supposedly gay-friendly, and the CSULB campus has supposedly become a safe space for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. However, transphobia runs rampant. This incident could only be so public and violent in a space where transphobia is prevalent.

Second, universities are not safe spaces, as many claim. Women know this. Male on female attacks of rape, sexual assault and sexual psychological violence run rampant on colleges. We pretend we are safe, but the ivory towers of academia seem to reinforce, perpetuate and institutionalize violence against people who are not heterosexual white men. This horrific act of violence should remind us of this and mobilize us toward a proactive response.

Finally, universities are business and the bottom line is all they cater to. What has CSU Long Beach done to respond to this atrocity? NOTHING. There should be therapists counseling for free, the campus should be on lockdown in search of the perpetrator, every class should be opening with a university funded workshop on transphobia, all campus clubs should be able to offer members free self-defense classes, symbolic vigils and moments of silence should be taking place across all CSU and UC campuses. But what has happened? NOTHING!  A CSU Long Beach student informed me that the university touts itself as a “safe campus.” Clearly, they would rather keep that title in name and not in practice since they are avoiding dealing with this atrocity to save face.

If this upsets you as much as me, do something about it. The university has not responded. Contact these people and inform them of your disgust. Encourage them to act. Let them know their response of no response is not acceptable.

F. King Alexander

President

fkalexan@csulb.edu

Brotman Hall BH–300
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840–0115
562/985-4121

Charles Reed

Chancellor

400 Golden Shore Long Beach, California, 90802

(562) 985-2500

creed@calstate.edu

Perrin Reid

Director, Equity & Diversity

562/985-8256

preid@csulb.edu

Below is more information and talking points for your letters from the CSULB students themselves.

CSULB student, Nicoal Renee Sheen, has put together a list of talking points to assist in your letter writing:

I think there are several issues to be addressed.

One – that a friend pointed out – is making CSU Long Beach an environment that takes a strong stance against any form of queerphobia and creating a strong infrastructure for support.

In addition, this should be a long term goal and not just short term in punishing those who carried out the attack. Demand that the University speak out against queerphobia ALWAYS and not just when a horrific attack such as this has already taken place.

Also, demand the University to implement programs in which to educate others. This type of violence breeds from ignorance and socially embeded intolerance. We need to teach others that this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on campus or in our community. We must strike the problem at its root.

This program should also include rape and sexual assault – since the University has continually ignored the core problems of why women are assaulted. In addition, the University constantly plays up the “stranger in the night” scenario every time an attack happens. This is simply not the majority of cases of any violent attack. We must make it clear that this violence is happening between mutual acquaintances. If we are to stop rape, sexual assault and queerphobic violence, the majority of population needs to be addressed, not just some fringe individuals.

Demand adequate programs not just band-aid solutions. We need crisis agencies, support centers and educational programs on violence, rape and sexual assault for incoming freshman and continuous throughout their college experience.

Feel free to add anything else in the comment sections below.

This is a collective effort for collective solutions to actually affect change.

The student group Conciencia Femenil composed the following list of demands for the University.

The university, CSULB and CSU System
CSULB promotes an environment that is complicit with the hate violence committed against us. As a state institution, and one currently intensifying its privatization, it increasingly is shutting its doors to racially and economically marginalized communities by limiting transfer students and raising fees.
We hold the university accountable to honor its full commitment to all students, including those from marginalized communities, by committing to continuing secured access for our communities, and by providing an environment that does not allow any room for violent acts/speech to exist. Several contingents of marginalized communities on campus including Chican@/Latin@ and GLBTQI have requested the administration to fund and support the recognition of task forces and commissions to address and better represent our concerns in the campus community and these requests have been denied. In order to better prevent future violence at CSULB, we ask the university to:

* Immediately implement a Chican@/Latin@ Commission and GLBTQI Task Force and other commissions for marginalized students in order to better account for existing inequalities and create a university that is hospitable to our communities and not to the violence committed against us…. See More

* Provide secure and robust funding for a Queer Studies Program, for Chican@/Latin@ Studies, Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies.

* CSULB/Library to be inclusive of the history of all peoples, address the 60th anniversary celebrations and documentation that explicitly left out the history of marginalized communities.

* Better promote and increase student awareness of Counseling Services

* Add a Chicana/Latina support group and Queer Chican@ Support Group/Services

* Fund a Fulltime staff position in the Daily 49er that will work ½ time on the moderation of comments and remove hate speech and ½ time will work on covering the concerns of marginalized voices on campus, including queer, women and students of color, trans, low income and undocumented/immigrant students.

* Fund a Tenure-Track position in Chican@/Latin@ Studies in Chicana/Latina Social Movements.

* Include information regarding resources available to marginalized students on campus at the Student Orientation Advising Training (SOAR) We ask that you specifically include all the resource centers as part of the University’s on campus tour. We also ask that you include information about Majors/Minors in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies and all Ethnic Studies.

* Considering the recent deaths of 2 female students to domestic violence and the fact that college age women are most at risk for sexual assault, we ask that SOAR trainings include a required training component on sexual harassment, violence against women, racism and homophobia.

* Provide all members of campus community with education about hate speech, violence and the campus policy on violence, referencing actions of accountability that will be applied. All who violate policies will be required to attend in-depth training on sexism, homophobia, violence against women, racism, and ally for undocumented training.

* Implement an on-going assessment of campus hate speech and violence.

* Require all campus auxiliaries’ affiliated with the university be held up to University standards and policies regarding discrimination and violence.

* Add more general education courses and capstone requirements from Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Queer Studies.

* Acknowledge our voices, concerns, and complaints regarding these requests and the demands put forth by students on March 4th.

* Write a public letter of apology to Conciencia Femenil, Chicana Feminisms Conference Organizers, Chicanas/Latinas, and Queer conference participants, students and faculty, and to leading scholar/artists in Chican@ Studies, Cherrie Moraga and Alma Lopez, acknowledging the valuable legacy of their scholarship, art, and conference participation and organizing.

* Act in a proactive manner, and that the university does not wait for further incidents to occur in order for effective change to take place.

[1] I am unsure if the student is transgender or transsexual.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 3:28 pm

    Still no university-wide email sent out regarding the issue. I called the president’s office. Apparently the woman who is “supposed to” deal with these issues is not in the office today so no one in the Office of the President knows what the university response is going to be. Oh my fucking god. Are you kidding me? Maybe they could have her supervisor or say the, uh, PRESIDENT of the University fill in and provide a response regarding this atrocity.

  2. Raina permalink
    April 23, 2010 9:33 pm

    This is so messed up. I’m posting all of this on facebook so that hopefully it can get out to more people.
    Please let us know as soon as you have any more info!!
    Thank you so much for covering this.

  3. Nicoal permalink
    April 23, 2010 10:59 pm

    Thank you for posting Vegina!

    Everyone come to Take Back the Night on April 29th 2010

    We will be addressing sexual assault and rape as well as the recent trans/queerphobic attack. We must speak out and demand real change.

    TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

    Our annual rally, march, and speak-out protesting and raising awareness about sexual and domestic violence. It will for the first time feature a performance skit on sexual assault presented by the CSULB performance group InterACT. We will be integrating hate violence into the event and will have at least one speaker as well as resources addressing transphobia/queerphobia and the recent hate crime on our campus.

    7pm-11pm starting at Maxson Plaza, march through campus, and Soroptimist House at 8:45/9pm.

  4. April 26, 2010 5:26 pm

    FINALLY, the administration has said something.

    http://daf.csulb.edu/offices/ppfm/police/bulletin/current.html

    They posted a sketch of the assailant and sent a brief message to the CSULB community:

    ****
    EMAIL SENT TO THE STAFF, FACULTY AND STUDENTS AT CSULB:
    “As you may have heard, a CSULB transgender student was attacked in a campus restroom Thursday evening, April 15.

    University Police have been conducting an intensive investigation into this matter and seek your assistance if you have information to provide. At this time University Police strongly believe this was an isolated incident and that there is no continuing threat to members of the campus community.

    For additional information about the reported attack and to view a composite sketch of the assailant, please visit http://daf.csulb.edu/offices/ppfm/police/bulletin/current.html

    If you have information pertinent to the investigation, please contact Det. John Leyva at 562/985-4101.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Mary Stephens
    Vice President
    Administration and Finance”
    ******

    Of course, absolutely no mention about transphobia or sexual violence. No mention of the word carved into this young man’s chest. No outrage expressed. Just a short report. I wonder what would have happened if this had be a well-off straight white student? I am pretty sure it would look different in a lot of ways.

  5. April 29, 2010 9:44 pm

    Another horrendous incident and nothing. This is pathetic. Those zealots should stop attempting to ban things they think is immoral and focus on the rights of others. I hope no one thinks they have the right to do any of their actions. The violence is clearly illegal, and their words are illegal as well, since they are “defaming without provocation”, which is against the federal law. By this fact alone, the federal government should intervene, but we know how that will end up….

    I’m glad I live in New York, a tolerant city for nearly anything you believe or partake in (except of course, New Yorkers are also afraid of Muslims thanks to Bush’ scare tactics)

    Don’t mind me too much, I just have an issue with many decisions people seem to make today.

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