THE BLOG
09/04/2013 06:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

'That's a Man!'

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It is dangerous for a gay or transgender person to walk down the street in any city or town in the United States of America. The anti-gay law in Russia is despicable. The harassment of transgender women in Greece is an affront to human rights. The fact that it is illegal to engage in homosexual sex in any number of countries and punishable by death in a number of Muslim nations is an abomination. But we must face the fact that in the year 2013 in the United States of America, despite or maybe in part because of the progress that we have seen in marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, gay and transgender people are targets of violence.

In many of the attacks on gay or transgender people, the assailants are total strangers. They attack their victims on sight, without provocation, simply because they think they "look gay" or because they identify their victim as transgender. In fact, transgender women must live every second of their lives with the knowledge that if they step outside their homes and walk down the street, they may be confronted at any moment by a total stranger pointing at them and exclaiming in total ignorance and stupidity, "That's a man!" What follows may be limited to verbal abuse or escalate into a physical confrontation. The transgender woman can choose to walk on and pretend that she heard nothing, or she can stop and confront the abuser. If she does, who knows where the confrontation may lead?

What is going on here? Who are these people who are so angry and hateful that they are ready to verbally abuse or physically attack innocent people that they don't know on sight and without any provocation whatsoever? Or maybe the provocation is that they are actually attracted to their potential victims. It's love or lust at first sight, and they express that love or lust impetuously only to learn a few moments later that the person they thought was a genetic woman is indeed transgender. If they expressed that attraction in front of their friends, then there is hell to pay. They feel humiliated, so the object of their attraction must pay with her life. That appears to be what happened in the tragic case of Islan Nettles, a young transgender woman who was murdered in Harlem a few weeks ago.

How do you live? How do you go about your day if being attractive can put your life in danger? But that is indeed the everyday reality for numerous transgender women whose beauty and femininity allow them to "pass."

Once again, how is it possible that there are people who are walking around in such a state of rage and self-loathing that they are ready to murder another human being on sight simply because they object to what they think is their sexual orientation or gender identity? Who are these people who are so insecure that they become homicidal when their attraction to another human being is ridiculed by their so-called friends? I must admit that I have no answer for these questions. If anyone does, please enlighten me. However, I do know that there are elements in our society that enable these haters and bigots, perhaps making them feel that they are justified in attacking gay and transgender people. Yes, these pathetic haters and bigots may feel justified in unleashing their hatred and bigotry because they know from the Bible that being homosexual is an abomination that is punishable by death and eternal damnation. They know from their religion that being transgender is fraud. A transgender person is really a cross dresser, a homosexual in drag, a pervert who deserves to be abused. They may also know about the laws in various countries that criminalize homosexuality and believe that those laws sanction their attack on gay people. Anti-LGBTQ politicians in this country are culpable as well. They add to the chorus, denigrating gay and transgender people, degrading their humanity to the point where haters and abusers can easily put two and two together, thinking that these people don't matter: They're less than me. They deserve to be beaten. They deserve to die.

That's the reality for gay and transgender people in the year 2013 in the United States of America. Despite all the gains, including marriage equality, the hatred and bigotry persist, and it is dangerous for gay and transgender people to walk down the street. It is dangerous for a man to wear a pink shirt and pink shoes. It is dangerous for a transgender woman to look beautiful.