By Dawn Cranfield
Crimes against Transgender People Added to Hate Crime Law
On Monday, Sen. Pat Spearman, Dem. North Las Vegas, presented Senate Bill 139 to the Nevada State Legislature. The bill, known as SB139, would specifically recognize crimes motivated by gender biases and mete out punishment accordingly.
At the heart of the bill were 8-year-old Christian Arroyo and his mother Elvira Diaz. Arroyo was born a girl, but identifies with being a boy. His mother passionately pleaded with the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “When you are a mother, you want to leave your kids the best thing, and if I can leave to him the privilege to have life, to be free and safe and to live a successful life, that’s what I want.” (Reno Gazette Journal)
Spearman believes the bill is “more than just symbolism”; perpetrators of hate crimes can face up to 20 years in prison beyond what they would receive for the original crime.
The hate crime measure adds “gender identity or expression” to Nevada’s hate crime statute. The bill delineates the term to mean “the gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.” (Reno Gazette Journal)
While Spearman believes the bill is more than just symbolic, a suspect would have to have been found to be motivated by “hate” before the terms of the statute could be applied and the additional 20 years would be added to their sentence.
Last year, my brother’s house was targeted by criminals who set his vehicles on fire and spray-painted the words “homo” and other distasteful affronts on them. My brother was the only one home and barely made it out of the fire with his life after the garage caught on fire and a neighbor woke him by pounding on the door.
After a police investigation where my brother and his wife told the police their son had been harassed at school for months for his sexual orientation, the conclusion was made that it was not a hate crime, but simple vandalism.
Fire. Gay Slurs. Tens of thousands of dollars of damage. Potential loss of life. Vandalism.
Crimes against those people who identify with being transgender may indeed come from a place of hate, but it seems that most crime does. Theft, rape, sexual abuse, battery, the list continues. It may be self-hatred, hatred of others, but it stems from hate.
Woolbright, Matt. “Bill adds transgender to hate crime law.” Reno Gazette Journal (Reno, NV); Tuesday, March 5, 2013, Page 3A, print.