In November, a high school student wearing a skirt was set on fire on an Oakland, CA city bus. Sasha Fleischman identifies as agender and prefers to go by the pronoun “they.” In the weeks after the hate attack, many conversations ensued about hate and acceptance alongside dialogue about the way we talk about gender. Here, Mazique Bianco explores gender terms directly, pointing to the empathy and compassion in each of us. By Mazique Bianco At a sun-drenched table at a cafe in Oakland, I listen to two people next to me discussing a hurt they have experienced. I’ve joined their table as a stranger in the packed cafe. I feel an affinity with them. One of the two friends gets up and the person next to me meets my eye. I ask them if they are going through something difficult, and their face breaks open into more softness.
Rhode Island is now the 13th state to include gender-identity and expression in its hate crime laws. The Transgender Hate Crimes Monitoring Bill (S2488) was introduced to the Rhode Island General Assembly on February 16. It passed the Rhode Island House on May 24, and Governor Lincoln D Chafee signed the bill on May 30. The Transgender Hate Crimes Monitoring Bill assists in the research and safety of Rhode Island’s transgender population. In addition, because the bill addresses all hate crimes committed from gender identity or expression bias, victims of all gender identities are protected under this statute. Specifically, the bill adds gender identity and expression to Rhode Island’s hate crimes reporting statute, which already specified race, religion, gender, disability and sexual orientation as motivating prejudices. This now requires Rhode Island State Police to not only report hate crimes based on gender identity and expression, but to also undergo mandatory training regarding the handling of gender identity and expression related hate crimes.