Earlier this week I learned of the death of Tyra Trent, a 25 year old TS/TG woman, whose body was discovered in an abandoned building. The details of the circumstances of her death were sketchy due to use of the word “asphyxiation”, which may or may not indicate violence, particularly given the definitions of asphyxia.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asphyxia
Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which primarily affects the tissues and organs.
Other causes are:
- Carbon monoxide inhalation, such as from a car exhaust: carbon monoxide has a higher affinity than oxygen to the hemoglobin in the blood’s red blood corpuscles, bonding with it tenaciously, and, in the process, displacing oxygen and preventing the blood from transporting oxygen around the body
- Contact with certain chemicals, including pulmonary agents (such as phosgene) and blood agents (such as hydrogen cyanide)
- Self-induced hypocapnia by hyperventilation, as in shallow water or deep water blackout and the choking game
- A seizure which stops breathing activity
- Sleep apnea
- Drug overdose
- Ondine’s curse, central alveolar hypoventilation syndrome, or primary alveolar hypoventilation, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system in which a patient must consciously breathe; although it is often said that persons with this disease will die if they fall asleep, this is not usually the case
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome.
- Exposure to extreme low pressure or vacuum to the pattern
But even if Tyra died alone in a squat where she had taken shelter from the cold and used some sort of charcoal burner to stay warm, thus dying due to carbon monoxide poisoning rather than at the hand of another she still died due to the systemic violence of poverty.
The story said she had been arrested in the past for sex work. This meant she was probably working the streets as call girls have a residence and are rarely arrested. Street sex work is the most dangerous and many of the violent deaths of TS/TG women are sisters who were murdered working the streets.
There are such things as multiple layers of oppression and those who are most often the victims of violence, either individual or systemic are often victims of a full spectrum of oppression. One of those layers is race, another class. Look at the photos of those sisters whose pictures show up at Day of Remembrance Services. So many are people of color. But white or people of color many are also desperately poor.
Years ago the first article I had published was, “Not My Child” about transkids who were runaways and throwaways. But the article could have applied equally to the few hundred homeless kids living on the streets of Hollywood. Some of whom were transkids and others gay or lesbian, many were there because they were thrown out by their “Christian” families. Thrown out because they were too rebellious or too promiscuous or questioned the rigid religion of their families.
The austerity measures of the last 40 years with the transfer of wealth to the privileged few made it impossible for there to be hippies like in the 1960s where bands of kids could join together, rent cheap apartments and live on virtually nothing.
I haven’t been able to find the story to provide a link but about the time I wrote “Not My Child” there was a story of several kids being asphyxiated in a squat where they had a fire in a charcoal burner to keep warm.
A Google search turned up so many stories about the homeless and squats and people being found dead in them I couldn’t begin to find the story I was looking for so the specifics will remain anecdotal.
Suffice it to say, Reagan’s Regime and subsequent regimes have destroyed the social safety net that supported those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale and now there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people including entire families rendered homeless due to the criminal manipulations of the banks and mortgage con games.
Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” He bluntly spoke the truth. We can look at the death of Tyra Trent or any one of the murders of TS/TG women who show up on the lists for The Day of Remembrance and see a tragedy, where if we add their deaths to those of sex workers in general or in Tyra’s case to those homeless who are found dead then we lose the tragedy in the banality of statistics.
When I turned to some of the trans-blogs I immediately found Tyra being used as reason why we need a trans-inclusive ENDA.
Is that all this person’s death signifies? Another martyr, whose death can be calculatingly used to further a particular cause?
Perhaps the activists of the Transgender Borg Collective actually believe this. Many have both male privilege and white skin privilege as well as class privilege that gave them well paying careers that were damaged when they came out. Their multiple levels of privilege can blind them to the levels of systematic oppression faced by people like Tyra.
ENDA will not end racism or class oppression nor will it end sexist oppression of women.
But most of all ENDA won’t bring back the things that might actually save the lives of kids like Tyra. Things like Welfare, subsidized housing, Medicare for all, Jobs Training, effective government financed legal assistance, public defenders.
ENDA won’t end the systemic meanness that have become the Republican mandated way of life that turned the war on poverty started by our last real Democratic President, LBJ in to a war on the poor waged by Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama.
The focus on ENDA is so limited as to be but a crumb in the struggle we need to be waging. We face a well financed right wing machine that closely resembles the Nazi Party in early 1930s Germany and our focus is supposed to be so small.
In the mean time demand more shelters that include TS/TG folks with out insulting them or demanding they use gender inappropriate shelters.
Don’t just use Tyra to leverage ENDA, because without job training and welfare programs ENDA won’t do squat for the least privileged and most oppressed of our society.