RIP Krissy Bates

[Trigger warning for violence, sexual assault, dehumanization, transphobia.]

Something I've been thinking about over the past couple of days is how a lot of the language of violence in this culture isn't actually explicitly violent. Marginalizing language is implicitly violent language, because people who are marginalized are at increased risk of violence.

I was thinking about this all day today, working a post in my head in the vague way that posts tend to do before I actually write them.

And then I read this article about Krissy Bates, a trans woman who is Minneapolis' first homicide victim of 2011, a trans woman we'll be remembering in November of this year, when we do the grim work of compiling the names of the dead for the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Because that thought was in my head, how the language of marginalization is itself violent language, it was particularly difficult to read the truly abysmal coverage of Ms. Bates' death. "Formerly known as Christopher Bates." In the update, it's even worse: "The Medical Examiner released the victim's name as Christopher Paul Bates and determined him to be a white male."

No. Krissy Bates was a trans woman.

A trans woman who had recently been sexually assaulted and was concerned for her safety. Her building management reportedly refused to fix a broken window in her apartment, told her she'd have to pay for it herself.

The thing about the language of marginalization is that it also means marginalized people will make less money, too.

So someone crawled into Krissy's window, or maybe got through one of the malfunctioning security doors in the building, about which she and others had complained to no avail, and killed her. The cause of death was "complex homicidal violence." That means lots of injuries, often of different types. Way more than needed to make sure someone is dead.

Dallas Drake, principal research at Center for Homicide Research, explains: "We see in GLBT homicide, it's common to see overkill. Overkill is excessive wounding, more injury than what is necessary to cause the death. Or second, multiple types of wounds."

The kind of killing that really underlines what the difference between a regular old murder and a hate crime is.

The kind of killing done by someone who's internalized a lot of hatred drawn out of the language of marginalization, whose hate comes exploding out in a geyser of violence.

Yes, yes absolutely, the person who did this ugly thing is to blame. But we are all accountable for the culture in which this ugly thing happened.

I am accountable. I'm so sorry, Krissy.

I didn't know Krissy, and so I can't say anything about her, about what kind of person she was. I don't know if she was funny or smart or kind; I don't know what talents she had or how she wore her hair. It's strange to write about someone you never knew, and be so sad.

I don't know what else to say but this: I'm all in.

My sincerest condolences to all who knew her and loved her.

[H/T to Eastsidekate, who notes the Star Tribune's coverage is, unfathomably, even worse.]

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