I see people joking (morbidly, of course) about how transgendered women should run for their lives from Memphis and I just want to again reiterate a couple of things. One, trangendered women who work as prostitues in Memphis are obviously in pretty dire straits. Most people, if they had their choice, would not be working in a place where someone (or more than one) are running around shooting at women like you and where the police beat you up if you arrive at the police station. I’m sure everyone in Memphis knows the risks, so if those women are still working in Memphis, we have to respect that they believe that this is their best option.
We know that Duanna Johnson, for instance, was trying desperately to leave town and that her family was trying desperately to come up with the money to get her out of town.
So, believe me, I understand the urge to shout “Flee, flee!” but let’s be honest about whether that’s actually possible for some of these women.
Second, these women do the work they do in Memphis because there is a market for it. Let me just put this bluntly. People purchase time with transgender prostitutes specifically because they want to have a sexual encounter with a transgender prostitute. That’s the draw, the marketing angle so to speak. For lack of a better way to put this, trangender prostitutes aren’t trying to “fool” clients into believing that they’re born biological woman. Everyone knows what’s going on.
I want to stress that second point because the psychopathic assholes who attack and sometimes kill transgendered women are counting on YOUR discomfort to make it easier for the psychopath to get away with his crime unpunished. In the specific instances in Memphis, the asshole(s) are counting on the fact that most people in Memphis seem to be uncomfortable with “gays” (using the term loosely and in a way I disagree with) and, in their opinion, men who fuck people who have an XY chromosome arrangement are gay. They’re counting on the fact that many black people act like homosexuality is something that just doesn’t happen in their community. They’re counting on our whole society’s belief that there’s something weird and unnatural about being transgendered. And they’re especially counting on our belief that transgendered people are somehow trying to “fool” people and that, in pretending to be something they aren’t, they are being dishonest to such an extent that anyone who finds out about the deception would naturally be repulsed, maybe even to the point of harming the person doing the deceiving.
I’m clearly not agreeing with any of these things. And I clearly believe that all of them are, at the least, problematic and wrong positions to hold. I’m just saying that the people who prey on transgendered people, especially the women in Memphis, count on the fact that YOU believe some or all of those things so that they can get away with preying on the people they want to prey on.
Like I said, men who search out these women to have sex with are doing so deliberately. The subset of those men who react towards those women violently aren’t doing so because they’re surprised and repulsed. They’re doing so because they know they can count on us believing that they would, of course, be surprised and repulsed, and so they will face little or no repercussions because of their actions.
And, frankly, in Tennessee? It seems like they won’t.