**Trigger Warning**: Violence in our Neighborhoods

Dear internet: I’m sorry this is my first real post. I don’t know how to do blogs but feel like this trans* group needs some postings up here on the lived experiences of trans* folk in Iowa City and I have got to get this shit out of my head and heart because if I don’t, well, I imagine not falling asleep until about 4am or so and as a graduate student who relishes sleep – when it comes – that isn’t acceptable.

I had a lovely day with friends – catching up with folks I haven’t seen in several years, leaning into their painful stories of loss, checking my own stories of the summer, and connecting with new folks as well. A perfect convergence of good coffee, conversations, stories, laughing, crying, heartache. joy

I came home later this evening and my heart was full and singing with all kinds of warm fuzzies. I cracked open a celebratory beer (yay for building community!) and lit a cigarette (yes, I am a shameful smoker and won’t smoke around folks that I know are non-smokers for those who don’t know my dirty secret). My peace was interrupted around 11:30pm as I witnessed, on my porch, a man screaming at his girlfriend that he hated her “stupid bitch fat face” and spitting at her. Then he started hitting her……..

I hesitated. No, strike that. I froze.

For all of the feminist philosophy that has been ingrained in me for 15 years this was the moment where it seemed to count.

She was weeping, and then laughing, and then demanding that he call his friends to let her in the house. She seemed to fear for her safety. I feared for her safety.

And then…something happened in my body where I felt like I was reliving some (recent) past experiences and reached my threshold. I called the cops. I don’t often like institutionalized criminal punishment. In fact, as a trans* person I fucking despise it. I have been bullied (read: emotionally abused) by the very forces that I called upon. But as a small person who appears to most as a sissy faggot guy, I wouldn’t dare put my body in the line of their argument.

So I called 911 for the first time ever, in my entire existence and made a very sociological report: A white man in his early 20s named {X} is yelling at, spitting on, and hitting his girlfriend named {C}. I live at (fill in address} and if you are standing in front of it, it is to the left. There was silence on the phone and then the woman asked me if I said he was hitting her. Violence is one of those things that different cultures interpret differently. I almost said, “maybe” but then I remembered the sobbing of girlfriend {C} and her sob-talking “You hit me.” And in that moment I was caught between the consequences of this call and the politics of institutionalized racismsexismtransphobiaheternormativityablesimandonandsoforth So I mustered up energy, for {C} and myself and said that yes, I was sitting on my porch and watching this happen and I couldn’t be a passive bystander any longer.

What works in my favor, as a bystander, is that I assume most other dudes assume that a “fellow-bro” would never call the cops, never report this kind of “thing” that has been so thoroughly ingrained in our collective culture and particularly for men (it seems) that both {X} and {C} were thoroughly shocked when the cops arrived.

But his behavior triggered something in me. I imagined being {C} and screaming I love you, as my boyfriend assaulted me emotionally, physically, verbally.

The cops came within 5 minutes (sometimes, perhaps the system works). And then a giant screaming match ensued with {X} screaming about his fucking lawyers and disheartingly, {C} pleading for {X} to calm down and put his hands above his head and reassuring him that she loved him. The cops have him in the car, right now, at this moment that I am typing. And I can still hear him screaming and crying and yelling about lawyers and the fucking cops and goddamn neighbors and please god fucking arrest me, I love you, I need you, FUCK you.

And while I fear for my life, if {X} ever found out who called the cops (and as a sissyfaggotqueertrans person), I feel content that I did something important for {C} even if she doesn’t realize that until years later.

“Even if” he was fall-over-his-feet drunk. I don’t believe that is an excuse. And “even if” they both deny that he physically assaulted her, he is assaulting our community by his emotional and spiritual violence – “even if” our definitions of such are different. For the verbal onslaught that has happened since he has been sitting in the cop car (and yes, thirty minutes later they are still sitting outside of my house and my dog is cowering in the closet because she is sensitive to yelling and loud voices) and the violence he is enacting now not only upon his girlfriend but this neighborhood…is simply unacceptable. For {X} is an abusive fucker that needs to be reminded that as a community, we simply won’t stand for this shit.


Posted on August 25, 2012, in Abuse, blog postings, safety, Violence. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. having been a male and convincing myself of that for years, well, sharks have testosterone too. the bull shark is over endowed with testosterone is and notoriously dangerous to humans. more than that a bull shark for all its smaller size is quite well adapted to survival and will succeed even by that interatction with that hormone. it does rash and sometimes unusual things; like swimming upriver all the way to Cincinatti! why? who knows! but bull sharks do that.

    firstly not all “males” are into the good ole boy system. however all of the male oriented population recognizes hormonal overdose. the american indians found over endowed males quite useful in defense/ offense for each tribe and “tolerated” such behavior as you describe solely for their defense mechanism. or so it would seem. personally i feel we could get along without super testosterone, but there it is.

    and then there is the estrogen polarity. in fact i think what you witnessed is probably a typical interreaction between hormonal overdose in society. remember two men fighting over a woman? gee we see that all the time in nature. remember bambi? well if there is not another man to fight, the man will fight himself or whatever target is available. and yes they know it is wrong and feel guilty. but in some it is so bad that even guilt is slow to come or totally missing. this is labeled psycosis and is usually accompanied by violence. and the amerindians put up with this tribally? yeesh. that this behavior is “animal” and that we as humans are somehow above that is hypocritical and missing the point.

    having been a security officer in a huge population and seen this sort of thing at work in the populace and within he security force i find it tragic and even laughable sometimes. on security we called it an edge. as in “i have lost my edge”. meaning a sharp knife? you needed an edge to deal with the public. but as in a knife, an edge is only part of the blade. a good officer knew how to maintain his approbim and still have that necessary edge to just cut loose when needed. young officers and even old ones sometimes were never or only partially able to control the edge. it was a constant inner struggle. that you hesitate to use the police is a recognition of that edge and its problems. that you regard all police as dangerous because of this is a typical polarity, probably from estrogen experience. not only do estrogenic people seem to be happier and more forgiving, they seem to have a line that is drawn eventually and that is unforgiving. testronic individuals have less of a line. (my terminology is suspect as is my spelling; and analogies actually).

    ok my analogy is simplistic. but after years of observing this phenominon i think it might have some accuracy. and the analogy certain helped me survive more than a decade of security work with thousands of individuals i tried to care for and help. being on the other side of the hormone polarity (m2f) i feel even more understanding of people in general. but i know that the edge is tricky and if i ever went back to that work mistakes would be made because the edge got a little too edgy. 🙂 if the populace could see clearly what a new police officer goes through his education and their help would engender a wiser set of officers and a whole lot of better action would ensue. that you have crossed your own rubicon means you have stepped into another world and that you must look into your own soul. that you are questioning your own “line drawn in the sand” means you have entered knowledge of the dual effects these hormones produce. that is my feeling.

    just be careful of being branded a good ole boy by the rest of a limited society. it takes courage to cross a line.

  1. Pingback: this is the place I live [1]: on race, embodiment, and my community « Clare Forstie

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