Two of Gwen Araujo's murderers found guilty...
...but only of second-degree murder, and the hate crime charges are rejected...
I've been following and cartooning about this story for a while, so like many, my feelings about this verdict are really mixed. This was first degree murder, plain and simple. These men planned to kill 17-year-old Gwen Araujo for the "crime" of being herself, of being transgender. They brutally beat her to death, buried her in a shallow grave, and tried to cover it up. If that's not a first-degree murder and a hate crime, what the hell is?
Still, on the bright side, the "transgender panic" defense (that a straight man just would naturally be driven so mad by the idea he'd had sex with a trans woman that he'd have no choice but to spend hours brutally murdering and torturing her) was rejected. From the SF Chronicle:
The Bay Area's transgender community was both heartened and disappointed with the verdicts in the Gwen Araujo murder trial Monday, praising the jury for delivering justice but wishing all three defendants had been found guilty of murder and a hate crime.
Leaders in the community said the jury's rejection of a "transgender panic" defense -- in which Araujo's gender identity absolved the men of some guilt in the crime -- represented significant progress.
"It sends a message that you can no longer blame the victim for what happened," said Cecilia Chung, deputy director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco. "You can't blame a transgender person for being who she or he is."
And as reading her website reminds us, this is all much bigger than one murder case. Brutality, violence and disrespect towards trans people is epidemic, and certainly not limited to one or two well-known incidents. Expect a cartoon on this from me soon.