LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — UPDATE – Sept. 29, 2014: As reported in this space last month, the California legislature sent to the governor’s office a bill that banned the usage of ‘trans panic’ as a defense for physical harm inflicted on trans people. Today, we have word from The Advocate that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the bill into law. Brown also signed the Respect After Death Act – a bill that will help transgender people receive properly notated death certificates.
(Original article, August 29, 2014) On the heels of the American Bar Association’s recent call for states to ban “trans (and gay) panic” defenses in court, the California legislature passed such a bill and it’s already on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for him to sign. This would make California the first state to ban this practice.
The trans panic defense has been use by criminals to excuse their behavior when engaging in romantic or sexual activities with transgender partners. This often results in a conviction of a lessor charge or complete acquittal.
Equality California’s Rick Zbur in The Advocate: “This defense legitimizes prejudice and hate, and it should play absolutely no part in California’s justice system,”
The murder of Newark, California trans woman Gwen Araujo in 2002 is an early notable case of the trans panic defense being applied. She was killed by four men after their discovery she was transgender — none were convicted of hate crimes.
While California is just the first state, a precedent has been set. Before long we’ll see dominos start falling.
Gwen Araujo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Gwen_Araujo
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