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LGBTQ+ Media

Victim shaming

This is disgusting.

The Yorkshire Evening Post:

Robber carried out ‘humiliating’ sex assault on victim after discovering he had targeted transgender victim

Awful, right? It’s something most trans women live in fear of: the violence of straight men who discover we’re trans, the subject of so many “trans panic” defences in courts. But while the crime is despicable, my disgust is also about the way this has been reported in the linked article.

Here’s the subheading.

A violent street robber sexually assaulted a student after discovering his victim was a man who identifies as a woman.

We’re not even into the article and it’s already called the victim a man.

First paragraph:

Luke Anderson was jailed for more than four years after a court heard he humiliated and taunted the victim when he realised he had targeted a male dressed in women’s clothing.

So let’s humiliate the victim again by calling her “a male”.

The barrister said: “It was never intended to be a sexual assault. It has caused him considerable embarrassment.”

Embarrassment?

This isn’t a social faux pas. He has a record of attacking lone women, he was off his face on crack cocaine and he grabbed a young woman, threatened her, punched her in the face hard enough to make her bleed and forced her to the ground. None of that, apparently, would be cause for embarrassment. That’s just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill violent attack on a young woman. Who’d be embarrassed about doing that?

No, he was embarrassed because it then became a sexual assault. When he discovered she had male genitalia – not guessed, or deduced, but discovered – he sexually assaulted her and didn’t stop even when the terrified woman, in fear for her life, stuck her thumbs into his fucking eyes. 

Anderson continued the attack, saying: “You are a feisty one.”

He was caught because he left his DNA on her clothing.

Is that what he’s embarrassed about?

The judge told the defendant he believed the sexual assault was based on hostility towards the victim’s gender identity. He said “You realised it was a man dressed as a woman and you began to humiliate her.”

Misgendering again, and then an extra bit of dehumanisation by referring to her as “it”.

Maybe this report is just demonstrating how a barrister, a judge, a journalist and a sub-editor need to go on more diversity workshops. Maybe the judge didn’t mean to misgender the victim, let alone refer to her as “it”. Maybe the barrister meant that the attacker was remorseful, not embarrassed.

But it doesn’t read like that. It reads as if the barrister was trying to frame this as a “trans panic” case where the victim’s trans status should be considered an excuse for the assault rather than the entire motivation for it. In other words, victim blaming – and by repeatedly misgendering her in its report, the paper has added some victim shaming too.