You Think Pronouns Are The Issue?

Cemia “Ci Ci” Dove, also known as Carl Acoff Jr., was a transgender woman killed by someone, brutally, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cemia “Ci Ci” Dove

Acoff’s body “was stabbed repeatedly and dumped into a pond, tethered to a block of concrete.”

An intentional killing, obviously.

The killer did not want anyone to find Ms. Acoff’s body.

I will “speculate” that a Man murdered Ms. Acoff. [UPDATE: A man is charged with killing Dove.]

Let’s also assume that Ms. Acoff’s “gender identity” contributed to her murder.National GLBT organizations and the Pink Media have latched onto Ms. Acoff’s murder as a tale of Trans* oppression, although these groups have framed “oppression” as how Mainstream Media covered the story. Some outlets called Ms. Acoff a man while others used clearly sensationalistic language about her.  The GLBT Media response is predictable, with hand wringing about pronouns and how transgender people are the most oppressed people on the planet (they’re not – but some Trans* people certainly suffer more than others).  This article is particularly offensive with its suggestion that journalists who engage in tabloid news practices have “blood on their hands.”

No, they don’t have “blood on their hands” (although Mainstream Media surely fails at preserving human dignity).

So who does?

In the Trans* community, reliable statistics (and by reliable, I mean not the National Center for Transgender Equality’s survey) suggest that it’s young black Transwomen living in poverty who face the greatest risk of victimization (by Men, by the way).

Let’s look at Ms. Acoff.

Ms. Acoff, 20, had amassed a not insubstantial criminal record, stemming primarily from her behavior on public transportation.

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Police charged Acoff with disorderly conduct on numerous occasions.  Indeed, Acoff engaged in violent behavior on at least one occasion when in “December 2011, (she) was sentenced to six months in the county jail after pleading guilty to inducing panic and assault for squirting Mace in a man’s face while on a bus. The passengers had to evacuate the bus. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman also ordered Acoff to not to ride RTA buses after that incident.

Spraying MACE in a person’s face on a bus – an enclosed space – is not pro-social behavior.

It’s anti-social behavior.

Can we talk about mental health?

Acoff lived in South Collinwood, a predominantly African-American neighborhood hit very hard by the foreclosure crisis.

US Census Data, Housing Stock, Change from 2000 to 2010.
African American
US Census Data, Population Trends, 200 to 2010. The significant decrease in population stems from people losing their homes in the foreclosure crisis.

Acoff lived in a neighborhood with a concentration of crime – robbery, theft, burglary, assault.

S Collingwood
Spot Crime Data for South Collinwood, Cleveland, Ohio.
Rondell ROad
Detailed Spot Crime Data for South Collinwood, Cleveland, Ohio.

Can we talk about grinding poverty?

Acoff’s social media presence suggests that she wanted to appeal to the Male Gaze (that is, she is not a person who harasses Lesbians).

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This is exhibitionist behavior, by the way. It might also suggest something else.
Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 11.45.26 PM
Can we talk about prostitution?

“Intersectionality” would dictate that Transgender Organizations should work to ensure that Ms. Acoff – who is clearly a member of the most vulnerable demographic of the Trans* Community (young person of color living in poverty) – is at the center of  a movement for “rights.”

The rights, not insignificantly, that would be MOST important to her would not include “the right to be called she.”

Rather, they would include: A Right to Mental Health Services, A Right to Safety, A Right to a Living Wage.

They would also include, most importantly, A Right to Be Free From Male Violence. Most of the people remembered on the Transgender Day of Remembrance are, again, Transwomen of color killed by Men, usually after the Men “discover” that the Transwoman is biologically male.

But, instead, we get…


This story – a Transwoman of color found dead – will repeat unless and until a few things happen (Remember Tyra Trent, Baltimore?).

Name the Problem.

Name Actual Solutions.

A Man likely killed Ms. Acoff.

Both Transwomen and Women suffer from Male Violence. GLBT Organizations do not lobby for interventions to reduce Male Violence.

I recognize that Male Violence is a huge and difficult issue, and that it is easier to focus on “pronouns” and say facile bullshit like “the media has blood on its hands” and “cis people oppress trans people.”

But that does nothing, absolutely nothing, for people like Ms. Acoff.

But maybe that’s the point.

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 10.19.09 PM
The “dangerous drugs” were estrogen, apparently.
Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 10.16.32 PM
Spraying mace in someone’s face on a crowded bus is not pro-social behavior.

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