Monday, 3 August 2009

One Reason for not going alone

For Surgery, that is.

Trinidad, Colorado is (not very accurately) described as the "sex change capital of the US". Certainly one particularly well known surgeon, Marci Bowers operates there, and does perhaps 200 surgeries per year.

Many people face this surgery alone. They've lost friends and family. But it might be an idea for them to consider that there might be safety in numbers.

From the Pueblo Chieftain:
Police are investigating the alleged rape and attempted murder of a transsexual man visiting Trinidad for a sex-change pre-operation procedure.
District Attorney Frank Ruybalid said, as of Friday, there had not been an arrest. According to a police report, on July 16 the police department received a 911 call regarding a female party that was found in a room at the Trinidad Motor Inn bound at the feet and hands with a telephone cord, not clothed and injured.

Upon arrival detectives discovered that the victim, who was hearing impaired, also had been sexually assaulted with a wooden coat hanger.

The victim, who according to reports, was from California but had spent some time in Washington state, had been residing at the hotel during a stay in Trinidad.

The report stated that the victim, 25, had an appointment with a local doctor about a transgender surgery on July 15.

The victim had gone to the motel's lobby at about 9 p.m. on July 15 to use one of its computers. According to the report, it was there that the suspect entered the scene.
According to the report, police, using a sign-language interpreter, gathered statements from the victim.

According to the report, the suspect attempted to talk to the victim in the hotel lobby. After leaving to go back to her room, the victim said that the man from the lobby knocked on her door.

The report stated that the suspect was very adamant about wanting to come into the room and was "eyeballing" the victim’s body, up and down. The victim refused to allow him in and said that the suspect left. The victim then went to bed.

A short time later, the victim said, the suspect knocked at the door again before forcing his way in. He then allegedly forced the victim onto the bed.

The report stated that the suspect directed pejorative terms for homosexuals at the victim, forced the performance of sexual acts upon him and sexually assaulted the victim with a coat hanger.

The report stated that the suspect then dragged the victim into the bathroom, filled up the bathtub and attempted to drown the victim. The suspect also allegedly grabbed a hair dryer in the bathroom and plunged it into the bathtub with the victim, in an apparent attempt at electrocution.

The electrical breaker, however, dislodged from the wall plug and foiled the attempt.

According to the report, the victim was then was allegedly dragged back to the bed where the suspect bound the victim's feet and hands together with a telephone cord. Before leaving, the suspect allegedly slapped the victim, using more epithets and said people like that should not come to Trinidad.

The victim was discovered late the following morning, still tied up, and was taken by ambulance to Mount San Rafael Hospital.
So for any of you considering surgery anywhere in the US - be careful out there. Canada and Thailand are far safer - and you'll have people around you who understand.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but one crime in a spot does not mean that other spots are safer. This comes across as pure US bashing, Zoe. I'm disappointed.

-- Erin

Anonymous said...

You lost your logical approach on this one Zoe. Yes, there are those who hate transsexuals in the United States. But, extrapolating one attack to imply that Trinidad is not safe for transpeople and, at the same time, stating that Canada and Thailand are safer, is not logical. There are transphobic people in every city, state or province, and country in the world.


RadarGrrl said...

I agree with these others, Zoebie. Montreal has its fair share of nasties too. I've had a couple of 'phobic experiences, although nothing nearly as nasty as this. Quebec has gained a reputation as an intolerant place. You just didn't see any of it.

Anonymous T-Girl said...

Comments making declarations with no statistics: three.

Comments voicing how aweful it is that a man was raped: zero.

Anonymous said...

Right on Anon....besides which the clear implication I got from Zoe's write up was it is dangerous to go anywhere for surgery alone, not Trinidad specifically.

Amercentric thinking going on here?

Zoe Brain said...

My impression - based in the sheer number of homicides of trans people - is that the US is more dangerous than Thailand or Canada.

Brazil on the other hand is far worse, and many places in South America worse still. As for the Middle East...

Rather than being anti-US, I think I'm probably guilty of living in a fool's paradise here in Australia. There's plenty of transphobia, and violence, but very few deaths.

If we were like the US, we'd have an average of about 2 deaths a year of trans people in hate crimes. In fact, it's more like 1 every 5 years, if that.

So rather than others being Amercentric, I think I'm being Austrocentric. And I have "passing privilege" too, so just don't see the problems in my own backyard, because I don't experience them.

The basic moral though is, no matter where you are in the world, be it in a "safe" or "unsafe" place... be careful. There is safety in numbers.

Sara said...

I hope the police follow up with all due diligence, reviewing security camera records, fingerprints, hair, etc.

Ignoring the argument over who has bragging rights here, I agree with Anonymous T-Girl. Regardless of which country gets to add this to it's stats, what happened is awful. In my opinion, THIS is exactly why hate crime laws are needed.

Assuming a typical narrative, this woman has waited and worked for years for to get to this point. I'm only guessing that support has been minimal or funds carefully spent judging by the stay at a Motel 6-ish place, alone. Regardless she made it through the hoops both internal and external, unlike so many others. Then a stranger takes so much from her: her dignity, her self-respect, her physical well being...and we are worried about...ourselves. We are more concerned with how we appear (or more specifically, how Zoe appears). do we look?

Anonymous said...

Zoe I was there in Thailand with you. The closest I been to a Transsexual crime was when one of Suporn patients got jumped on the bridge to McDonlds from the clinc. They stole her purse.

I lived in The US for 60 years and never had anything like that happen to anyone I know.
The media like to bring shock and awe just as you do. Remember there are 300 million in the U.S.

Anonymous T-Girl said...

The writing in the source article could be clearer.

But just for the sake of respect to the victim, i feel the need to point out that the crime involved a ftm transsexual.

Male pronouns would be appropriate.

Read the article carefully. If i am wrong on this, please correct me.

Christine said...

Interestingly, a google news search turns up no supporting articles for this.

Zoe Brain said...

Attacks on Trans people average about 2 a day in the USA. Why should it be covered outside a local newspaper?

The journalist obviously had difficulty writing the story so as not to cause confusion. Difficult story... happens every day... not newsworthy.

Besides which, it could be that the attacker thought he was assaulting an effeminate gay, rather than a pre-op trans man. It might have come as a bit of a shock to him too.

So was it a transphobic or a homophobic attack? Put it in the "too hard" basket and move on.

Our existence doesn't just make journalists' tasks harder, but homophobic would-be murderers too.

Sara said...

My apologies to both you and the victim if I'm wrong, Anonymous T-Girl. I honestly don't care what gender the person is. FTM's go through their own flavor of struggle to transition and to have surgery when appropriate/possible. For anyone to be attacked like this is wrong, for someone to be attacked because they are different or don't fit a pseudo-philosophy is horrific.

Anonymous T-Girl said...

No harm done. As i indicated, it would be a difficult story to write for someone unfamiliar with T issues.

i emailed them last night.

This morning was a curt (my intuition tells me the person may be less than simpathetic) response that simply stated that nothing new had been uncovered, and that they were waiting for an arrest before a follow up article.

Another response from someone else showed up later today, which was much more friendly (and christian, to be fair).

They said they were waiting for follow up information as well, but they would not drop the story.

Anonymous said...

1,408,337 assaults out of 300 million each year in the U.S.

That is a little less than 1/2 %.

TS assaults is about the same percentage of the TS population.

Anonymous said...

this will be treated as a hate crime and prosecuted to the max by the Trinidad DA.this is a good town and very understanding of the people that come here for re-assignment surgery.
When facts are known the assailent will be found not to be a resident.
to bash Trinidad and it's long history of respect for the people that come here for treatments is very unfair.

Anonymous T-Girl said...

"There are certain shades of limelight that can ruin a girl's complexion." - Audrey Hepburn

*i* appreciate what you do, Zoe.

Anonymous said...

one of the problems that hindered investagation is that the assualted person may be a deafmute and a translator in american sign language had to be brought in. this would also account for lack of assistence when attacked. hard to hear screams when there are none!
lay off on Trinidad folks we will prosecute this!

Zoe Brain said...


There are many places in the USA where I would have doubts about the enthusiasm of the investigation.

Colorado is emphatically NOT one of them.

Colorado is relatively safe - but "relatively" is the operative word. Apart from the incidents at Greeley, a friend of mine is still recovering from a brain-injury sustained in another hate crime, a kidnapping/torture/attempted murder over many hours.

The Colorado Police have been utterly professional in her case. As they were at Greeley. As I have no doubt they are in Trinidad. If anyone can cath the perp, they can, and will.

But that doesn't alter the fact that there have been at least three such incidents in the last year, including a death.

The police can avenge us, but we have to protect ourselves. And if we're unlucky, transphobes may realise that if they want to go tranny-hunting, what better place than a waterhole?