Judge tells trans person’s neighbor to pay up for years of harassment and hate comments

Attorney Michal Johnson

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Among other things, the trans person’s neighbor, Wilna van Staden, would call her neighbor “it”, routinely tell people of the trans person’s gender change, circulated a petition to get the trans person evicted, and invited visitors to watch her trans neighbor over the bordering fence.

After complaints to the housing management and the police failed to curtail the neighbor’s harassment, the trans person’s attorney took van Staden to court.

Earlier this year South African Magistrate M J Thobela ruled van Staden’s behavior amounted to unfair discrimination and hate speech. Thobela ordered van Staden to pay damage for moving expenses, for the pain, suffering and humiliation she endured as well as counseling expenses. Thobela cited the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000 as the basis for the decision.

The trans person’s attorney Michal Johnson: “People have been allowed to say what they wanted to vulnerable groups of our society for far too long without suffering the consequences. The ruling sent out a clear message that the act afforded protection to victims of hate speech and that the courts would enforce their constitutional rights.”

[Trigger warning!] Transsexual triumphs over abusive neighbour – Crime & Courts | IOL News | IOL.co.za.

Attorney Michal Johnson


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Categories: Judicial, Courts, Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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25 replies

  1. Don’t some of these “reporters” ever get it (referring to the linked article) that persistently and deliberately referring to a transwoman as HE throughout an entire article, especially one on a subject such as this, is also deliberate hatespeech and committing the same crime as the “defendant” ??? I think the lawyers job is not over yet and significant damages should be sought from the publishers of this article also. (iol news)

    • I don’t see anywhere in this article that the “trans person” was referred to as “he”. This article doesn’t even indicate the gender of this person, except by only one reference to “she”. Get off your sensitivity wagon. I do agree that appropriate reference amounts to respect.

  2. I think there’s a difference between the deliberate hate this woman was heaping on her neighbor, and simple ignorance from a media that frankly just doesn’t get it yet. I do believe that they are working on that, as I’ve seen many articles refer to transgender people by the correct pronoun. I know many people who don’t really mean any harm, they just can’t break through their confusion and need to be reminded a lot.

  3. The reference to “he” in the linked article is because the case was brought by the transwoman’s BROTHER – who is still a “he”!

  4. Taking on the media would be a full-time job in itself and I’d get nothing else done. 😦

  5. I believe they are referring to the transgender as a he because that is what he factually is, and that’s what journalists do, they report the facts.

    • That’s incorrect on two counts.

      First, journalists don’t just “report the facts,” they report the version of the facts that garner the most readers (or, in today’s dying newpaper industry, the most pageviews). Also, like any content creator, journalists report the new through the lens of their own experience, biases, and privileges.

      Second, trained journalists adhere to a style guide called the AP style guide — at least, American journalists do, and I imagine journalists elsewhere follow a similar set of guidelines. Unfortunately, while the style guide is updated regularly, it’s sadly archaic in certain areas. At this point in time (2012), the AP style guide uses the following language for new stories about trans* individuals: http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender.

      Furthermore, many news bloggers are not trained in the usage of the AP style guide, and simply refer to trans* persons by the most familiar terms to them.

      In other words, its less an issue of what you term “facts” and more an issue of subconscious bias, lack of training, and archaic style guides.

    • Journalists report the facts. Yes. Did they get the facts straight? No.

      • Reporting facts? During WW2, a reporter saw crates stenciled “G.I.”, unaware it general issue, bivouac gear. Due to his ignorance, our troops are called GI.

        Following the 2000 election, in Florida, over the radio (I was there), Katherine Harris stated, “some of them were a chad loose,” meaning the punchouts on the ballot. A reporter converted the adverb chad (tad) into a noun and the chad was born.

    • No, sorry. Im actually really surprised nobody has said anything about how transphobic and ignorant that statement was.

  6. Personally I have a neighbor who did this to me but I personally met my neighbors and now better than 3/4 now friends and she is taken as she is by them . It was an opening when they took the time to meet me and I said you know I am transgender and the conversation went on from there mostly about the neighborhood

  7. Oh even the prejudiced guys have acepted and told me they just are themselves and have a hard time with me because of me but are still friends.

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  10. As stated many times before, there are people in the public venue who think it’s there inalienable right to disrespect or discriminate against the gay and transgender community. The media is mostly responsible for this by allowing their reporters or their broadcast shows to partake in negative transgender and gay jokes. Producers will allow anything to be used for a public laugh or insult. In the case where the slur is of a black or Hispanic type, the people are dealt with post haste. We need an organization with lots of cash to be able to take these reporters and actors to court on their public display of intolerance. It appears that the gays are starting to get legal class action support on this at the the moment. We have to work on getting transgender legal class action support. When there’s a chance of being bitten by a lawsuit, the offenders will always back down. Just look at all the verbal venom that was focused on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, when they allowed the Broadway play “Kinky Boots” actors to perform a song in it wearing drag. I suppose that there was a time (pre 1970) when black people were forbidden to perform in the parade.


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