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 Covering Hate Crimes & the "Other"

 

           

Transgendered workers gain protection The Detroit News, June 21, 2004

Case of slain transgender teen could go to a jury this week Associated Press, June 1, 2004

Open Letter to News Organizations: Covering the Court Case In the Murder of Gwen Araujo NLGJA,
May 24, 2004

Newark mom denounces federal bill The Argus,
November 9, 2003

'Corrective rape makes you an African woman' Saturday Star (South Africa), November 8, 2003

Slaying Victim's Mother Now Speaks Out Against Hate Crime Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2003

Judge upholds murder charges in Newark transgender teen killing Associated Press, July 23, 2003

Chilling time line of a killing San Francisco Chronicle, February 26,  2003

Guilty plea in transgender killing San Francisco Chronicle, February 25,  2003

Attack witnesses unlikely to face criminal charges San Jose Mercury News, February 23,  2003

LA judge orders two to trial in attacks on gay, transgender people Associated Press, January 11, 2003

Araujo slaying suspect granted bail The Argus, 
January 8, 2003

Why did it take a murder for the people of Newark to wake up to the harassment of one of their own? San Francisco Chronicle, December 22, 2002

Mom says transgender teen didn't die in vain  Associated Press, December 21, 2002

Three other suspects plead innocent in transgender teen's death Associated Press, December 13, 2002

Two defendants in Newark teen's death delay pleas The Argus, November 9, 2002

Pre-play vigil fetes Araujo's memory Tri-Valley Herald, November 9, 2002

Teen's journey to transgender identity San Francisco Chronicle, November 3, 2002

Newark officials say they weren't quiet about slaying Tri-Valley Herald, November 2, 2002 

Teen's Sad Tale: Troubled years preceded attack, San Jose Mercury News, October 26, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Detroit News,
June 21, 2004

Transgendered workers gain protection

By Deb Price / The Detroit News

A series of trailblazing rulings is sending employers the unmistakable signal that, if they want to stay on the proper side of the law, they need to make their workplaces ready to welcome transgendered workers. 

Breaking away from the backward rulings of the 1970s and ’80s, early 21st century courts are quickly making clear that employers will not be allowed to discriminate against transgendered workers — or anyone else — simply because they do not conform to traditional gender roles. 

This legal trend in federal and state courts will greatly benefit workers who, through surgery and hormone treatments, have changed or are in the process of changing from male to female or vice versa. It will also protect workers whose clothing, mannerisms or other personal traits depart from rigid gender stereotypes. 

In embracing transgendered workers, courts are largely relying on a groundbreaking 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling — Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins — which declared a top-notch accountant’s bosses had no right to harass her over what they saw as unfeminine behavior. The new rulings also rely on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws job discrimination based on gender, and the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees. 

In addition, California, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island explicitly ban discrimination based on “gender identity.” Kentucky and Pennsylvania prohibit bias against transgendered state workers. Eight other states — Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont — have interpreted their anti-bias laws as giving some protection to transgendered people. Already, 35 Fortune 500 companies include gender identity in their non-discrimination policies, according to the Human Rights Campaign. That’s up from five in 2001. 

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Associated Press,
June 1, 2004

Case of slain transgender teen could go to a jury this week

Michelle Locke, Associated Press Writer

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) - One night in October 2002, four young men allegedly set upon another member of their group in a slow and savage attack that ended with a beaten and strangled body buried in a shallow grave.

It sounds like a simple case of homicide, though it was anything but.  The victim, known to most of her friends as pretty Gwen Araujo, had been born Edward Araujo Jr. and was still biologically male.

In weeks of often sad and sometimes sordid testimony in the trial of the men accused of killing Araujo, prosecutors have portrayed the death as a cold-blooded vendetta.  Defense attorneys have blamed heated passions, the panicked reaction of drunken young men devastated by sexual deception.

On Tuesday, attorneys were to begin presenting closing arguments in the case, which has been closely followed by people who feel their sexual and biological identities are at odds.

"There is a certain amount of nervousness; the courts haven't always been the most affirming place for transgender people," says Christopher Daley, co-director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center.  "I think, especially because of the way the defense teams handled this case, that one of the overarching themes is going to be: Are transgender people valued in our society?  Like it or not, this verdict is going to be some measure of that."

Michael Magidson, 23, Jose Merel, 24, and Jason Cazares, 24, are charged with killing Araujo. A fourth, Jaron Nabors, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and agreed to testify against the others.

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NLGJA,
May 24, 2004

Open Letter to News Organizations
Covering the Court Case In the Murder
of Gwen Araujo

The transgender community is an important segment of the Bay Area’s diverse population.

For this reason, the Northern California Chapter of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) would like to offer a few short but effective guidelines to help with accurately reporting on transgender individuals. 

As with all communities, covering the transgender community poses its own special challenges, and we wanted to make sure that you had access to tools that would help you do the best job possible. The transgender community often receives little coverage and, as such, is often misunderstood. The coverage of the murder of Gwen Araujo is one of the tougher challenges – using the right terms when you can’t ask the subject the terms he or she prefers.

The following can be found in the NLGJA Stylebook Supplement, The Associated Press Stylebook and other guidelines developed by newsrooms across the country.

USE OF PRONOUNS AND PROPER NAMES:

Use the name and pronoun of the gender the individual lives or lived as, not the gender marked on the person’s birth certificate. 
The NLGJA Stylebook Supplement notes, “When writing about a transgender person, use the name and personal pronouns that are consistent with the way the individual lives publicly.” 

The Associated Press Stylebook also says, “Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex and present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.” 
Example: “Gwen Araujo was born biologically male. Her mother named her Eddie at her birth, but when she became a teenager, she changed her name to Gwen.” 

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The Argus,
November 9, 2003

Newark mom denounces federal bill

By Robert Airoldi, Staff Writer

The mother of a slain Newark transgender teen says a new bill aimed at including the transgender community in federal hate-crime laws does not go far enough.

Sylvia Guerrero is the mother of the victim, who was born Eddie Araujo but was living as a girl named Gwen at the time of the killing.

Neither Guerrero nor Vanessa Edwards, chair of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, supports the bill, known as the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act.

The bill would add "the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability" to federal hate-crime laws, thus giving the federal government greater leverage in providing assistance to local police departments and prosecutors investigating hate crimes.

But Guerrero said she does not want to see it become law. "Not with that wording," she said. "It doesn't go far enough. I'd like to see the word transgender in the bill."

Guerrero has become active in the transgender community since the killing 13 months ago.

Fremont resident Michael Magidson, 22, and Newark residents Jason Cazares, 22, and Jose Merel, 23, are accused of killing Araujo, 17, during a party at the Merel's Newark home Oct. 3, 2002, after it was discovered the teen was biologically male.

The three men are in custody in Santa Rita county jail in Dublin, awaiting trial on murder charges.

A fourth defendant, Jaron Nabors, 20, who initially faced similar charges, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for testimony against the others. He will be sentenced to 11 years in state prison after the March trial.

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Saturday Star (South Africa),
November 8, 2003

'Corrective rape makes you an African woman'

By Yolanda Mufweba

Lesbians are being raped, assaulted and victimised "every day" in the townships, in an attempt to force a change in their sexual orientation.

Since January this year, 33 black lesbians have come forward with their stories of rape, assault, sexual assault and verbal abuse to organisations fighting hate crimes in Johannesburg townships.

Zanele Muholi, a reporter for the lesbian and gay publication Behind the Mask, has documented 12 rapes, four attempted rapes, six verbal abuse cases, three assaults with a deadly weapon, and two abductions.

"Since we started on this project (The Rose has Thorns) we've realised that this kind of thing happens every day, everywhere. As we are speaking, there are two people waiting for me to take their details," she said.

The age group of the victims ranges from 16 to 35 years, and two of the rape survivors are teenagers. Muholi added that 24 of the 33 women who were subjected to hate crimes were "butch" women who had been victimised in townships including Sharpeville, Tembisa, White City, Kagiso, Pimville, Alexandra and Kwa Thema among others.

"Eight of the perpetrators were friends and neighbours, two - family, seven - familiar to the survivors, two - ex-boyfriends, seven - strangers, and five - attacked by gang members," she said.

Kekeletso Khena fled from Soweto after being raped three times before she turned 19.

It's a practice called "corrective rape", where men try to "turn you into a real African woman".

"I was raped because I was a butch child. I was 13 years old the first time it happened. My mother walked into the room soon afterwards and said to me 'this is what happens to girls like you'.

"It didn't occur to me then what she meant, but looking back now, that's not the kind of thing you expect from a mother," she said.

Khena had boyfriends but she never became sexually intimate with them.

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Los Angeles Times,
October 5, 2003

Slaying Victim's Mother Now Speaks Out Against Hate Crime

By John M. Glionna, Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - Wearing an elegant lavender evening gown, Sylvia Guerrero faced the lights at a downtown hotel here Thursday night to accept an award no mother wants to receive - one honoring the memory of her slain child.

In what authorities are calling a hate crime, her 17-year-old was bludgeoned to death at a party last October in the suburban East Bay community of Newark. Born Eddie Araujo Jr., the teenager was a transgender high school senior who was often living and dressing as a girl and using the name Gwen.

Araujo was kicked, beaten in the head, smashed with a shovel and strangled with a rope. The body was found buried in a forest in the Sierra foothills, police say.

Three men are being held without bail in connection with Araujo's murder and are scheduled to go on trial March 15. Michael Magidson, Jason Cazares and Jose Merel, all 23, have been charged with murder and a hate-crime enhancement that could increase their sentence.

The three, who authorities say killed Araujo after having sex with the teenager and then learning of the victim's gender, face 29 years in prison if convicted. A fourth man, Jaron Nabors, 20, has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and testified against the other three in a preliminary hearing.

Guerrero has spent the last year coping with the tragedy. A colorful, talkative woman, she has separated from her boyfriend, lost her job as a legal assistant and seen her 13-year-old son leave to live with his father, her lawyer says.

Yet she has also made the unsteady transition from grieving mother into a no-nonsense spokeswoman for issues involving the transgender community.

On Saturday, Guerrero attended a public memorial marking the first anniversary of Araujo's death. And last week, she accepted the award for her child from a Bay Area gay and lesbian rights foundation.

Taking the podium to a standing ovation, she wiped away tears and admitted that the anniversary of her child's death had made the last few days very difficult.

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Associated Press,
July 23, 2003

Judge upholds murder charges in Newark transgender teen killing

Michelle Locke, Associated Press Writer

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) - A judge upheld murder charges Wednesday against three men accused of killing a transgender teen in a hate crime.

Judge Robert Kurtz ruled that there was "adequate evidence" for another judge's findings that Jose Antonio Merel, Michael William Magidson and Jason Michael Cazares should be tried for murder in the killing of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo.

Attorneys for the men had sought to overturn the earlier ruling, issued after a preliminary hearing in February. Attorneys for Merel and Cazares had asked that the murder charge ruling be overturned and all three argued against the hate crime enhancement.

The three men have pleaded innocent.

Araujo, a 17 year old who was born male but lived as a woman, was killed last October after her biological identity was unmasked at a party at Merel's home in the San Francisco suburb of Newark.

According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, Araujo was slapped, choked, beaten with a skillet, tied up and strangled in an attack that lasted about two hours. Her body was driven to the Sierra foothills about 150 miles east and buried in a shallow grave.

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San Francisco Chronicle, 
February 26,  2003

Chilling time line of a killing

Death of transgender teen described in grisly detail

Kelly St. John, Chronicle Staff Writer

After one man strangled Newark transgender teen Gwen Araujo with a rope and a second one smacked her head with a shovel to make sure she was dead, they and two others buried her in a shallow Sierra grave and then stopped for breakfast at a McDonald's.

The chilling time line of events was outlined in court Tuesday by Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in Araujo's death Monday in exchange for testifying against his three friends.

As the three defendants watched impassively, Nabors described the callous attack in detail: The defendants seemed to care more about blood spilling on the couch than for Araujo. One man disgustedly described how she urinated as he struck a fatal blow, while another still wanted to "kick her a couple of times" after she was buried.

The damning testimony came at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Jose Antonio Merel, 23, Michael William Magidson, 22, and Jason Cazares, 23, should be tried on hate crime and murder charges in the death of Araujo, 17, who was born Edward Araujo but lived as a woman.

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San Francisco Chronicle, 
February 25,  2003

Guilty plea in transgender killing

Defendant makes deal, testifies against friends

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer

In a dramatic turn, one of four men accused of murdering Newark transgender teen Gwen Araujo pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge and testified against his three friends.

The plea bargain by Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, provided the prosecution with a powerful witness who described discussions he had with his three friends in the days leading up to the slaying of the teen, who lived as a young woman.

Nabors, who led authorities to Araujo's body in a shallow grave four months ago, told the court during a preliminary hearing that he had written a letter claiming the men had discussed a "Soprano-type plan" to "kill the b-- (Araujo) and get rid of her body."

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San Jose Mercury News, 
February 23,  2003

Attack witnesses unlikely to face criminal charges

By Yomi S. Wronge, Mercury News

When parties happened at the Merel house in Newark, the friends all joined in the fun. And when a killing took place, everyone joined in the cover-up.

Four men are accused of beating and strangling a transgender Newark teen. And now some people are questioning why two witnesses who testified last week that they either lied or withheld information from police aren't facing criminal charges.

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Associated Press, 
January 11, 2003

LA judge orders two to trial in attacks on gay, transgender people

LOS ANGELES - Two men accused of separate baseball bat attacks on a gay man and a transgender person were ordered Friday to stand trial on charges carrying hate crime allegations.

Superior Court Judge William Fahey found there was sufficient evidence to require Ever Rivera, 20, and Selvin Campos, 19, both of Los Angeles, to stand trial on two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of second-degree robbery.

The hate crime allegations were added to the charges after prosecutors concluded the alleged attackers thought their victims were gay.

The attacks occurred in October just east of West Hollywood, where a  Sept. 1 attack on a gay actor is being prosecuted as a robbery and assault without hate crime allegations.

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The Argus, 
January 8, 2003

Araujo slaying suspect granted bail

Judge plans to set amount today for Fremont man

By Robert Airoldi , Staff Writer

FREMONT - New details from the killing of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo emerged Tuesday during a bail motion for defendant Michael Magidson, one of four young men charged with killing the transgender Newark teenager.

Magidson, 22, was the first to punch Araujo during an Oct. 3 party at a Newark home and was seen with his hands around the victim's neck, said Connie Campbell, deputy district attorney.

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San Francisco Chronicle, 
December 22, 2002

See No Evil

Why did it take a murder for the people of Newark to wake up to the harassment of one of their own?

Julian Guthrie

The grim rumors were passed from person to person, during "Monday Night Football," over the phone, in front yards. As many as a dozen people were buzzing with news of the beating and killing of a cross-dressing male on the night of Oct. 3.

But no one went to the police. No one called the victim's mother.

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Associated Press, 
December 21, 2002

Mom says transgender teen didn't die in vain

Woman says she'll continue campaigning to fight prejudice

By Michelle Locke, The Associated Press

NEWARK - She had always worried about her child, ever since elementary school, when other kids threw stones and hateful insults at Eddie Araujo, the little boy who didn't fit in.

By 17, there were lots of friends, but the danger had only grown -little Eddie had grown up to be "Gwen," a beautiful young woman who only some knew was biologically still a man. 

Worry turned to dread on a quiet morning in October when Sylvia Guerrero realized that Gwen hadn't returned from a party the night before.

Something was wrong.

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Associated Press, 
December 13, 2002

Three other suspects plead innocent in transgender teen's death

By Michelle Locke

FREMONT - Three men pleaded innocent Friday to killing a 17-year-old after finding out the young women they knew as Lida was biologically male.

Meanwhile, the family of the dead teen says they will work to make hate crimes eligible for the death penalty.

"A hate crime is a crime of bias and poses a substantial threat to the health, safety and welfare of the entire community," attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the victim's family, said outside court.

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The Argus,
November 9, 2002

Two defendants in Newark teen's death delay pleas

One attorney denies Araujo was killed because of sexual identity

By Rob Dennis, Staff Writer

FREMONT - Two of the three men charged with the murder of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo delayed entering a plea Friday, but one of their attorneys denied the Newark transgender youth was killed because of his sexual identity.

Attorneys representing Jose Antonio Merel of Newark and Michael William Magidson of Fremont asked for the delay so they could review the 20 audio tapes and eight videotapes of witness statements.

Email: arguslet@angnewspapers.com 

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Tri-Valley Herald,
November 9, 2002

Pre-play vigil fetes Araujo's memory

Three hundred gather in front of Newark Memorial High School before debut of Matthew Shepard play

By Rob Kuznia, Staff Writer

NEWARK - Nearly 300 citizens, students, teachers and some once-wary public officials gathered in the rain for a vigil Friday night in memory of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo.

Among the people who gathered in front of Newark Memorial High School were family members of Araujo, a Newark transgender teen police say was killed at a party when several people there discovered he was biologically male.

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San Francisco Chronicle,
November 3, 2002

Chronicle Profile: Jack Thompson

Teen's journey to transgender identity

Berkeley student, born a girl, now sees himself as boy named Jack Kelly St. John, Chronicle Staff Writer Jack Thompson wears baggy cargo pants and steel-toed sneakers. 

He's a slender 16-year-old with a shaved head, tawny-colored skin and a swath of disarmingly cute freckles across his nose. His bedroom walls are plastered with photographs of Blink 182, Eminem and Ozzy Osbourne. A Raiderettes calendar hangs on the wall, and his girlfriend is a cheerleader.

A regular Bay Area high school guy. But look again. Jack wore a dress to his second-grade birthday party and still has a collection of teddy bears in his room, which, with its pink trim, makes him wince.

E-Mail: chronletters@sfgate.com 

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Tri-Valley Herald,
November 2, 2002 

Newark officials say they weren't quiet about slaying: City Council meeting was adjourned in memory of transgender teen

By Rob Kuznia, Staff Writer

NEWARK - City officials reject the claim they remained silent about the recent slaying of a transgender teen, pointing out they adjourned the last City Council meeting in memory of Eddie "Gwen" Araujo.

Earlier this week, members of gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy groups voiced dismay about what they called the silence of city and school officials, most of whom did not attend Araujo's high-profile funeral.

Araujo's bludgeoned body was found Oct. 16 in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevada. Police say Araujo, who lived as a woman, was killed when people at a Newark party discovered he was biologically male.

Three Tri-City area men have been charged with murder in connection with the crime. Prosecutors are pressing for a hate-crime enhancement, which could result in a stiffer sentence.

The case drew the attention of TV programs such as "Dateline," "20/20" and "48 Hours." But local elected officials preferred avoiding the" media circus," addressing the travesty in their own forum: the City Council meeting, Newark Mayor Dave Smith said.

E-Mail: rkuznia@angnewspapers.com 

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San Jose Mercury News
October 26, 2002 

Teen's Sad Tale: Troubled years preceded attack

By Karen de Sá

Most who knew her in the town of Newark called her Gwen, a bubbly kid who wore jeans and sneakers and spent long afternoons dancing to music videos and painting her nails with friends. She was a sympathetic ear for teenage moms, an expert on makeup application, a fun companion at the mall.

But Gwen was anything but a carefree 17-year-old. There was alcohol and drug use. She had stopped going to school. She came home so late so often that her mother moved some of her stuff into the garage.

And Gwen was a transgender teen, born a boy named Eddie Araujo, still with a male body.

When that fact was revealed at a party on the night of Oct. 3, police say, three men beat and strangled the youth to death. Police say the men, who face murder charges with a hate-crime enhancement, then took Araujo's body 150 miles away and buried it in a shallow grave on an abandoned logging path near the Sierra foothills.

"He was willing to stand his ground and be who he wanted to be, and people aren't used to that much confidence," said childhood friend Jennifer Woods, 16. "Ultimately, I think his strength killed him."

E-Mail: letters@sjmercury.com 

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