Says bisexual author and columnist AJ Walkley, "Recently my newsfeeds have been flooded with stories about attacks on trans* and non-binary individuals … Fortunately, one trans*bisexual activist is taking charge of this problem, turning to Kickstarter in hopes of raising the funding to launch the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal. I sat down with New Jersey programmer and activist Allison Woolbert to discuss her campaign and what she hopes will come from it.”
AJ Walkley: What is your connection to the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal?
Allison Woolbert: I am a concerned member of the community. I wanted to find a way to make sure that the violence against transgender/genderqueer/non-binary people is accurately documented and not swept under the carpet. I launched the Kickstarter project to make the vision of this project a reality. As CEO of a computer software development company, I am providing the programmers and technologies necessary to make this project successful.
Walkley: Why is a Transgender Violence Tracking Portal needed, in your opinion?
Woolbert: So often, the media and law enforcement are dismissive concerning the violence that is inflicted on transgender/genderqueer/non-binary people. In addition, hate incidents against transgender people are often not documented at all. Many of the cases that are reported are sensationalized, and the facts become muddled and disconnected.
Currently, there is no data repository that can validate and provide tangible evidence of the violence that has been inflicted on the transgender community … With this project, the data will be available to be reported and queried against every day of the year. At any given point in time, we will have a website that can show the world what the picture of our community looks like and raise the awareness and the responsibility of law enforcement to protect our basic right to live … The project will also enable us to allow interested groups and parties to sign up for email alerts when something in their community has happened and needs attention …
Walkley: There are some very grim statistics when it comes to violence against transgender people. Can you share a few?
Woolbert: Sadly, we have some horrid statistics that exist about the violence toward our community. The Transgender Murder Monitoring Project estimates at this point that approximately every three days a transgender person is reported murdered throughout the world … Virtually every few days, I hear about a transgender suicide or attempted suicide … Of the assaults, we have yet to have any statistics available …
Walkley: If your campaign is successful, what do you hope will come out of the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal? How will this site help?
Woolbert: There are so many capabilities that this portal will make available to the public. Just to list a few, I believe on some levels we will be able to track the numbers of the violent assaults and murders, as well as what the disposition of the crimes might be. In other words, is the case still open? Has anyone been charged? Were they found guilty, and did they get an appropriate sentence? Did a hate crime charge get pressed? Did the convictions get overturned? Did they use the “panic defense,” and was it upheld or used to mitigate sentencing? Have the police conducted a thorough investigation? …
Walkley: Should your campaign succeed, when can backers expect to see a completed portal site?
Woolbert: … I would hope that by the first quarter of 2014, we will have the portal fully up and functioning, ready for data to start being entered by volunteers. We have already begun the process in recruiting and vetting international volunteers from the various nations to be reporting officials for their areas …
WANT TO LEARN MORE AND GET INVOLVED IN THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE?
A response to the words: “You are too ugly to be raped”
Can you imagine? Can you imagine being sexually abused and then growing up being told that this is a good thing? That your sexual potency has been enhanced? That rape was a “head-start” into the wonderful world of sex? The damaging system that tells girls they are worthless after rape has a disgusting flip side for boys: you have worth now. This violence has made you a god.
"We’ve gotten the idea from movies and magazines that silence is sexy. Ultimate romance means fireworks and fairy dust sprinkling down from the heavens and instilling in us some magical intuition where both people suddenly just know what the other wants. Speaking out loud in full sentences would break the rhythm, ruining the mystical thrill of the spontaneous moment. And GOD FORBID you ask permission to do anything. I mean, come on, major boner killer.
But here’s the thing. The “sexy silence” model is based on two stupid and outdated assumptions: 1) that a man’s pleasure takes priority over a woman’s, and 2) that a woman’s pleasure must be expected and assumed, because how could she ever resist a man? The “just say no” part of the rule didn’t always exist. That developed later when society realized that women should have some say in the matter. Duh.”
Margaret Cho, “Yes Means Yes”
“I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit - a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person.
I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it. I said yes because I thought I was so ugly and fat that I should just take sex every time it was offered, because who knew when it would be offered again. I said yes to partners I never wanted in the first place, because to say no at any point after saying yes for so long would make our entire relationship a lie, so I had to keep saying yes in order to keep the “no” I felt a secret. That is such a messed-up way to live, such an awful way to love.
So these days, I say yes only when I mean yes. It does require some vigilance on my part to make sure I don’t just go on sexual automatic pilot and let people do whatever. It forces me to be really honest with myself and others. It makes me remember that loving myself is also about protecting myself and defending my own borders. I say yes to me.”