Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who You Calling Boy? - Trained in the Ways of Men

Who You Calling Boy: Theorizing Masculinities is a student blog on masculinity studies from UCF. This post is one student's response to a film called Trained in the Ways of Men about the murder of a transgendered teen, Gwen Araujo (more here).

Gwen was a pre-op MTF transgendered person, a teen, who was killed by other male teens who discovered her sexual identity (after she had engaged in sexual acts with two of them).

One of the boys tried to use a "trans panic" defense in the trials - they were not convicted of hate crimes as the prosecutor had sought. This article from Salon looks at another case where that defense was attempted.

The whole thing is very sad. I've added this to my Netflix list.

Trained in the Ways of Men

It was announced in class that the day is approaching us marked as the day to remember all those who were victim of violent sexist crimes due to their transgender orientation. With this I immediately recalled a documentary I recently watched, Trained in the Ways of Men. This amazing story brought tears to my eyes and raised a question I could not find the answer for within my own ideas. This documentary surrounds the brutal murder of Gwen Araujo. She was a transgender teen who was murdered by her three male friends after they became aware of her being a transgender female. Gwen had not privileged her peers with this information but had been involved in sexual acts with them. The court proceedings were drawn out and uncertain in outcome according to the legal parties. The defense said the boys act in passion because they had been tricked into believing Gwen was someone she was not. They did not feel the charges of murder were appropriate. Although they were convicted in the end it was alarming to me that there was such a period of indecisive action because I could not help but wonder if it would have accord if it was a heterosexual female who had been victimized. Not only the defense, but the press used inappropriate vocabulary to describe the Gwen and her situation that was simply ignorant, and if there is to an ability to find any positive in this it is the forced acknowledgment that was brought to society. Gwen’s mother requested she stop being reported as, “he” along with many other offensive lines such as, “he posed as a woman” or placing Gwen in hyphens as if it were a fake name. Also a naive decision in my opinion, although the murderers were convicted of second degree murder they were not convicted of committing a hate crime. Gwen’s death is an awful heart wrenching story that enrages any viewer with a heart. That is my truest opinion and before moving forward I want to make it incredibly blatant that I do not agree with the actions of Gwen’s supposed friends, and wish they had received the hate crime punishment so that further awareness could be brought to society and this homophobic behavior could be lessened. Yet the creator of this film poses a question within the idea of “tricking” a partner that I could not help but wonder about. Should there be some level of information about the gender of a partner required to keep from misleading a person. Obviously the reaction described above would belong only to the sexually insecure and mentally unstable, but I have to admit I would feel a level of hurt and betrayal if someone I cared for and was intimate with had lead me to believe anything but the absolute truth. If you were dating an individual and it was revealed to you that they were transgender would that matter to you? I want to say without having been in the situation that love is based on more than one’s sex and if I were in love it would not be something that could ruin it. However, I can not say that I would not have wanted to be aware before we had engaged with one another to that level. I finished the film well informed, sympathetic, and curious. What is the right answer? Would that change your mind if your loved one revealed they were transgender to you?

For any who are interested the movie is easily available on Net Flix for instant viewing.

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