Friday, 22 October 2010

(In)Actions speak louder than words

It's been nearly two years since I posted about former US Marine Jennifer Gale's death from exposure on the steps of a Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas.

From Planetransgender:
Two years have passed since transgender woman and former mayoral candidate Jennifer Gale died on the steps of a Austin Church. Jennifer's serenades often preceded council appearances and her notoriety spurred a outcry and a memorial was held. It was so very, very cold at her memorial on that grey Austin day but sadly her death has yielded no concrete results. The publicly funded homeless city shelter the ARCH, still offers no overnight accommodations to transgender woman.
In a email response Charles Kemp, Office of the Director, Austin/Travis County HHSD stated that the city funded homeless shelter ARCH does not allow transgender people to overnight, have a transgender written transgender policy or separate facilities to insure safety of transgender people should they take advantage of the 'day sleepers' program.
The Eulogies and tears shed at her death were most moving. From the Austin Statesman:
All seven members of the Austin City Council gave personal tributes to Jennifer Gale today is what was a touching and sometimes funny goodbye to the transgendered homeless woman who was a regular speaker — and singer — at council meetings. She also ran and lost numerous races for the council and other elective offices.

Gale had made her last three-minute appearance at a council subcommittee meeting Tuesday evening, spooling out her typically crowded list of concerns — health care, Iraq, abortion — and singing an on-tune and lilting version of “Silent Night.” A tape of her performance was played at council chambers today, with most of the audience and several council members joining in the singing.

“She’s always been an incredibly sweet person,” said Council Member Brewster McCracken, who recalled sitting with Gale for about 30 minutes not that long ago and asking about her life story. She told him about living in the Carolinas, about serving in the Marines, about working at a Stuckey’s.

The outpouring for such an unusual person, McCracken said, ” is a reminder of the better angels of all of us as Austinites. But the idea that she died alone on a park bench on a cold night is a reminder that we have not lived up to our better angels as a community.”

Council Member Mike Martinez pointed out that Gale had a particular problem finding proper shelter. She couldn’t go to a male shelter because she lived her life as a woman, but couldn’t go to a woman’s shelter because she was “anatomically” a man, Martinez said. He pointed out that the homeless residential facility that the council briefly considered months ago might have provided a place for someone like Gale.

Council Member Laura Morrison recalled that Gale was among the six who ran for the seat Morrison won. Gale came in fourth, Morrison said. Her favorite memory, Morrison said, was a Real Estate Council of Austin election forum when Gale “led about 500 suits and their guests at the Four Season’s ballroom in a rendition of “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.”

Mayor Will Wynn said he had the “distinct honor of running twice for mayor with Jennifer. You didn’t run against Jennifer, you ran with her.”

“Jennifer will be sorely missed,” Wynn said. “Semper fi.”
And in 2010, 2 years later...
According to Natasha Ponczek, Homeless Program Coordinator at City of Austin to the best of her knowledge there are no plans to make facility changes at the ARCH to accommodate transgender people.
No action. No plans for action, now or in the future.

Spare us the crocodile tears. It's easier to fight against honest malice than unctuous mouthings and deliberate neglect.


Heli said...

Matthew 25 (New International version)

The Sheep and the Goats

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Zimbel said...

"It's easier to fight against honest malice than unctuous mouthings and deliberate neglect."

Perhaps, but the later means that they at least don't think that their hatred is acceptable, or a widely-held view, so it's improvement over open malice.

Anonymous said...

That's an incredibly depressing and triggering story. For those of us who already live close to the edge, it just...makes me equal parts sad and angry.