My boyfriend sent me a link to a news report about a woman, Patricia Dye, who, according to the CBS report, dressed like a teenage boy in order to be with a 16-year-old girl. She went by a male name and was arrested and pleaded guilty to “sexual imposition, attempted sexual imposition and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” The girl said to have no idea that the Patricia was a 31-year-old woman, and in her photo she indeed passes very well for a teenage boy.
It didn’t seem to me, although I can’t be sure, that this woman identified as a man, but it does seem clear that she aimed to deceive this girl that she was a boy and much younger than she really was. This type of news story worries me, not just because this woman seems to be doing something illegal, but also because of the implications it could have on the transgender community.
Many transphobic individuals see transgender people as trying to “trick” you or even as having malicious intent. They might be seen as sexual perverts, even if their trans identity may nothing to do with their sexual desires in reality. I can only imagine people jumping on a story like this to demonstrate how trans people cannot be trusted and may be used to justify discrimination or even violence.
This brings to mind a particular part of Miranda’s Extermination of the Joyas in which she quotes a passage written by a Catholic priest about the Joyas during the Spanish invasion in California. In this passage he talks about how the Joya “thrusts himself in” to the women’s working and social space. This way of describing the Joya’s presence there stood out to me, just as is stood out to Miranda, as if the Joya did not belong there and was doing something mischievous. She discusses how it was assumed that the Joya was doing something sinful with the woman, “sneaking into the woman’s work area dressed as a woman to flirt of have sex with them.” Again this shows how the Spanish invaders saw the Joya as trying to trick people for depraved sexual purposes.
The Spanish soldiers had no problem massacring thousands of Indians in California at this time and even especially sought out the Joya to be ripped apart by dogs. They saw this gender expression as a sin among the already sinful, animal-like native people and greeted them with cruel violence. Miranda called this “gendercide.”
Too many gender variant and transgender people around the world are still subjected to violence because of their gender identity or expression. The Human Rights Watch currently has its focus on Turkey, where two fairly recent brutal murders of transgender women has “highlight[ed] an ongoing pattern of violence and the urgent need for stronger protection measures by the government…”
The implications of misunderstandings and skewed images of trans people are not only poverty, depression and isolation, but also severe violence. Although many trans people may prefer not to be out in public, I think broader public knowledge of transgendered individuals and their own lives and personal stories could help make this country and this world a safer, more secure place for gender variations.