Alexis King was murdered — yes, murdered — only to have her killer Terron Oates be convicted of “voluntary manslaughter,” which leaves open the possibility of a sentence that could let him out of jail in as little as 30 months.
Alexis King was murdered. And why did Terron Oates get convicted merely of manslaughter? It’s called the “trans panic” defense.
Of course such a sentencing would be absolute bullshit regardless of whether or not it was true, because finding out that a person has a sex organ you don’t like is never an excuse for murder, and murder it still is. But the fact is that Oates’ defense doesn’t wash at all. It’s simply not true. This was not a case of him panicking. As Lisa Harney says:
- He was out at 5 am on a school night
- He went to a strip club
- He had an illegal gun in his car
- He had the presence of mind to dispose of the firearm
- When he called 911, he told a story about a robbery and an unknown gunman
- Paramedics say that Alexis’ penis was tucked firmly away
- Sgt Daniel Dutch, an undercover john, says he’s never heard of or experienced such behavior from a trans woman sex worker – trans women tend to not draw attention to their genitalia
- Alexis was shot from the side and from behind, not from the front as you’d expect from Oates’ story.
This wasn’t manslaughter. This was a man trolling for trans women sex workers to murder. He was prepared to kill, his story doesn’t match the facts. Why did the jury let him off with a mild sentence for his crime? Because they sympathized with the trans panic defense.
Because Alexis King was a transwoman and sex worker, her murder is not as important as any other. The judge didn’t even feel the need to explain his reasoning for the ruling, but even the AP had a pretty fucking good guess. It’s because people assume that transwomen are running around trying to “fool” cis men. It’s because they assume that if she did “fool” him, it would be a reasonable cause for murder — since many people seem to be unable to imagine anything more horrifying than finding out that they were attracted to a person with the “wrong” sex organ. (I’d think murder would be 10 million times more horrifying, but apparently not.) It’s because sex workers’ lives are not valued. It’s because the lives of transgender people are not valued.
And why is it so? Because some people are seen as worthy and some people are seen as worthless. Because mainstream society, and particularly our justice system, gets to determine who falls into which category. Because of rulings like this.