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November 21, 2012 5:35 PM   Subscribe

The UN has condemned extrajudicial killing on the basis of gender identity.

When some countries tried (PDF) to remove the "gender identity" clause, the United States was opposed; but in the final vote for the condemnation, the US abstained (PDF). (Via.)

Meanwhile, in the US, it is still legal to fire someone for their gender identity in the vast majority of jurisdictions (here are a few where it isn't), trans people were not protected by the repeal of DADT, and we are still routinely denied access to health insurance.
posted by jiawen (33 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yesterday was of course the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to remember people who've been killed out of transphobia. It began as a memorial to Rita Hester, who was murdered in 1998. Since last TDOR, at least 265 trans or gender-variant people have been murdered around the world (PDF). The vast majority have been poor trans women of color.
posted by jiawen at 5:38 PM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Damn straight. Transgender people should only be executed after a fair and open trial.

(Yes, I'm going pedantic on the UN. It's nice that the UN stands against braying lynch mobs, but really, isn't this resolution just a little too circumscribed?)
posted by ocschwar at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now on to enforcement.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:01 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


While the resolution itself doesn't mean much as far as power goes; anyone looking to make an argument about why their government should recognize and protect gender identity can use this. It's proof that the world is changing, and changing in favour of protecting trans* people.

In a lot of countries' human rights & constitutional law (Canada & South Africa for sure, I think EU, not so much US), the courts will make reference to UN resolutions as interpretive aids for their on legislation. And it damn well can influence the executive & legislative side of government.

So tonight I celebrate!

For "study for exam-based values of celebrate."
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:07 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pretty sad that extrajudicial killing of, you know...anyone, has to be officially condemned.
posted by polywomp at 6:08 PM on November 21, 2012 [24 favorites]


Pretty sad that extrajudicial killing of, you know...anyone, has to be officially condemned.

Yes, this is suffering from some really unfortunate wording. It seems the UN periodically passes a resolution clarifying that murder is bad and the big deal is that they changed the wording this time around.
posted by hoyland at 6:37 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for linking my askmefi post, jiawen.

It's a damn fucking shame how trans people are basically treated as second class citizens or worse.
posted by yeoz at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


hoyland: "It seems the UN periodically passes a resolution clarifying that murder is bad and the big deal is that they changed the wording this time around."

God UN Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
posted by Riki tiki at 7:10 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: Now on to enforcement.

Yeah, I was kinda thinking Well, there's that settled then myself. Not that I don't applaud this step, but I fear that creating the "official condemnation" is going to be the easy part...
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:27 PM on November 21, 2012


in the US, it is still legal to fire someone for their gender identity in the vast majority of jurisdictions

A SHINING BEACON OF DEMOCRACY
posted by shakespeherian at 7:29 PM on November 21, 2012


[Folks, maybe realize that this is serious business to people and realize your snark may seem a lot like threadshitting?]
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 PM on November 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, which are the legitimate, permitted reasons for extrajudicial killing?
posted by Goofyy at 9:33 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a damn fucking shame how trans people are basically treated as second class citizens or worse. - yeoz

For many of us, 2nd-class citizenship would be an improvement from being treated as non-human universal contempt targets.
posted by Dreidl at 9:46 PM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


To not be snarky, but serious, this is a hollow victory, especially for those in the US. While other countries may follow through, the US has never very often regarded the UN as anything more than its tool for making other people behave while it doesn't have to.

While the list of jurisdictions in the US grows where gender identity and preference are no longer legally open as reasons to terminate employment or deny to hire, this is little more than a pretty idea so long as the grossly misnamed "Right to Work" states exist. Most companies will NEVER give a reason in these states, for either not hiring or dismissing someone, even if its simply a layoff or a downsizing. Thus, unless you have someone in the firm screw up, you'll never prove an illegal dismissal.
posted by strixus at 10:31 PM on November 21, 2012


It's easy to condemn extrajudicial killing. Are they going to condemn judicial killing?

PS: Uganda is currently debating a "death penalty for gays" law.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:05 AM on November 22, 2012


The fact that the amendments made to the text this time compared to last were so controversial to actually get through should be something of an indicator as to why some of us feel like this matters.
posted by Dysk at 12:53 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, let me just restate that for emphasis:

It was difficult and controversial to amend a condemnation of extra-judicial killings to include trans people. Think about that for second.
posted by Dysk at 12:57 AM on November 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Other notable abstentions: Israel, Turkey, China, Bahamas, Russia.

Notable "Yes" votes: Benin, Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan.

Also: only Iran voted against.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:21 AM on November 22, 2012


Why did the US abstain?
posted by moorooka at 1:53 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


At Tuesday’s session, the United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, presented an amendment that would have stripped the resolution of reference to "sexual orientation and gender identity" and substituted "or for any other reason."

OK. Allah's little helpers don't like a specific reference to sexual orientation but offer an amendment which is more inclusive. Who would oppose this? I wonder how that conversation went?

Many governments, including Brazil, the United States and South Africa, among others, spoke out to condemn the proposed amendment to remove reference to sexual orientation and gender identity. The Government of Japan ended the silence that has often characterized the Asian Group’s participation on LGBT rights at the UNGA by stating, "We cannot tolerate any killings of persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our delegation voted against the proposed amendment to this paragraph because we think it is meaningful to mention such killings from the perspective of protecting the rights of LGBT people."

So they weakened the UAE proposal - which was far more inclusive - to make a political point.

The UN is such a waste of time.
posted by three blind mice at 2:22 AM on November 22, 2012


moorooka: Why did the US abstain?

Probably because of all the extrajudicial killings we do. We probably assassinate more people than the entire rest of the First World combined.
posted by Malor at 2:48 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who would oppose this? ... So they weakened the UAE proposal - which was far more inclusive

Nerd, the UAE proposal didn't strengthen the measure. Here's the bit of the context in question (markup mine):
... to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including those targeted at specific groups of persons, such as racially motivated violence leading to the death of the victim, killings of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities or because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, killings of persons affected by terrorism or hostage-taking or living under foreign occupation, killings of refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, street children or members of indigenous communities, killings of persons for reasons related to their activities as human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists or demonstrators, killings committed in the name of passion or in the name of honour, and all killings committed for discriminatory reasons on any basis...
You see there is already lots of language in there about 'all killings', at the beginning and end. What the UAE wanted to do was to reach into the including/such examples and remove the LGBT one. That's all. Replacing the underlined bit with "for any other reason" does not do anything to strengthen the measure, but it does address countries like Egypt's "grave alarm" at "the attempt to legitimate undetermined concepts like gender identity." (And sexual orientation, outside the frame of this FPP.)

Yeah sure, ultimately it's just a UN condemnation, scoff snort fart, but the efficacy is not really the point.

The whole thing makes me imagine these ambassadors sitting around discussing the original thing. Someone's at the podium listing off a bunch of reasons not to illegally kill people. The ambassadors, half asleep are nodding, nodding, yes very humane, so noble ... wait, don't kill queers? Hm, can we change the language here?
posted by fleacircus at 2:55 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a damn fucking shame how trans people are basically treated as second class citizens or worse. - yeoz

For many of us, 2nd-class citizenship would be an improvement from being treated as non-human universal contempt targets.
Honestly, this is the one biggest thing keeping me from presenting as my identified gender. I am genuinely terrified by the thought of how society, my family, my friends, my coworkers will treat me when I do. There's this overwhelming fear that I'll never be seen as anything other than a "man in a dress" and would be treated as disgusting inhuman filth for it.

I'm pretty comfortable doing nothing right now. I have a decent well-paying job, friends that love and care for me, and no real problems to speak of. Well, outside of being trans. And as much as I try to deal (or not deal with it), it's stuff like this always makes me think that transitioning is impossible for me.

I've always had an expectation that transitioning would make my life better, or at least make me feel better about myself. But being in a safe comfortable place now just makes me wonder. If transitioning just delegates trans people to a role of "non-human universal contempt targets", why should I even bother transitioning? Why should I risk throwing away what I already have?

I'm in far worse shape lately than before deciding on transitioning. I don't really think I have the tools necessary to deal with the stress and pressure and all the repressed shit that keeps bubbling up to the top. I'm also afraid that I'll exhaust my friends' capacity to understand and help. Spent an hour on skype with a friend (the one in the AskMe) who talked me down last night. But, I just can't keep doing that to her.

I don't know why this hurts so much but it does. There are a lot of thoughts and feelings in my head that I wish I could just turn off forever.
posted by yeoz at 6:26 AM on November 22, 2012


(If you all would kindly forgive what on preview looks like it turned into a slightly self-indulgent derail:)

yeoz, I can't speak for the experiences of anyone else, of course, but I felt a trepidation similar to what you describe at one point, and thought I'd briefly tell my story, because it's a story I don't think gets told enough. I was terrified of how transition would affect my relationship with friends and family, my prospects of finding work, my life, basically. All I'd ever heard was stories of people's families disowning them, friends turning away in disgust, all that. In the end, I gritted my teeth, tried to make peace with the fact I might never see people again pre-emptively, and went ahead and came out, and started transition. My parents were taken aback and concerned at first, but came round to using my new girl name most of the time within a few months. Nobody else had a problem. Not one of my friends, not one other member of my family, no-one. I can't explain how much better everything is these days - my relationships with other people are much easier, much more natural. Every person I've ever had to deal with who read my boy name off a form, or had known me before was perfectly happy to call me what I preferred when politely asked, and treated me no different to anyone else. My entire extended family have been completely okay with everything, and treated me with as much respect as ever (even the ageing grandmother I was forbidden from telling for fear the shame might kill her - my very young siblings told her before anyone thought to tell them it was supposed to be some big secret or something, and she broke this news to my parents by warmly greeting me by my new name). I lean on my friends so much less than I used to, because I just don't feel the need to any more. Occasionally, I almost feel like something of a fraud, inauthentic, like I don't really belong in this club of 'trans' people, because I haven't paid my dues like everyone else has. I haven't suffered. Or rather, all my suffering was ultimately myself, and lay before the point of coming out and transitioning. The experience of coming out and transition was one of joy, not pain. Nerves, lots and lots of nerves, and joy.

Now of course, as I said above, I can't speak for the experiences of anyone else, and your mileage may indeed vary. But all I ever seemed to come across was a narrative of pain, and a cruel, terrible world that despised my very existence, then a torturous process of transformation, and maybe - just maybe - there'd be a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of one day passing. And that is not at all the world, or the experience that I encountered.

(If you ever need an internet stranger to vent at or talk to, you can always memail me.)
posted by Dysk at 8:06 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sad that extrajudicial killing of, you know...anyone, has to be officially condemned.
posted by polywomp at 2:08 AM on November 22


FTetc.
posted by Decani at 8:15 AM on November 22, 2012


yeoz: "I don't really think I have the tools necessary to deal with the stress and pressure and all the repressed shit that keeps bubbling up to the top."

Different people have different experiences with transition. For a lot of us, it's completely stressful and harrowing and sometimes deadly. For others, it goes quite smoothly. (For me, it was somewhere in between those extremes -- a mix of surprising ease and frightening danger.) I could predict how it'd go for you, but that would be lying (at least, without getting to know you a lot better). You're the best judge of whether or not you should transition. It sounds like you're taking care of yourself as best you can. Keep doing that. And, like Dysk, feel free to memail me if you need someone to talk to.
posted by jiawen at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


PS: Uganda is currently debating a "death penalty for gays" law.

Uganda “Kill the Gays” bill could be voted on Thanksgiving
posted by homunculus at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2012


Why did the US abstain?

I find that a really interesting question too. If you read the write up on this issue in The Advocate it seems as though the US was a major driver behind restoring this language (and Rice vowed immediately after the language was struck out back in 2010 to make sure it was reinstated). And even after the vote Susan Rice is clearly claiming this as a personal victory--and no one at The Advocate seems inclined to be skeptical about that.

I have to assume that the abstention was some kind of weird procedural maneuver or something? I'd be really interested if someone knew.
posted by yoink at 2:14 PM on November 22, 2012


GLAAD created an infographic that captures the past 60 years of transgender issues in honor of Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance.
posted by yeoz at 10:13 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Assume the Worst in Uganda: The Death Penalty Likely Remains in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2012


Family Research Council: Isn't Uganda Awesome?
posted by homunculus at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2012


Ugandan 'Kill the Gays' Bill Lawmaker Rebecca Kadaga Receives Blessing from the Pope
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on December 14, 2012


Christ, what a pair of ghouls.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:27 PM on December 15, 2012


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