Stuff like this just makes me sick:
Equality Texas mourns the death of Jennifer Gale, a 47-year-old transgender homeless woman who died yesterday. Jennifer's body was found Wednesday morning. She was lying in an outdoor walkway at the First English Lutheran Church in Central Austin.[...]
"Jennifer most nights slept outdoors," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn. "Jennifer, we believe, is the 136th person who has died sleeping on the streets (of Austin) over the last 12 months."
Marti Bier, policy aide for Austin City Council Member Randi Shade, said, "Something Jennifer would never talk about, but was a reality for her, is that she is a transwoman living in a transphobic society. Homelessness in the trans-community is a really big problem, and one that goes ignored. There are no laws in Texas protecting transgender people, whether from job discrimination, housing discrimination or hate crimes.
"There was really nowhere for Jennifer Gale to go to protect herself from the cold last night," said Bier. "The Salvation Army (the only shelter in town that takes in women) would not let her in there unless she was grouped with the men (which includes sleeping with, and showering with, other homeless men). They would make her use her male birth name and completely disregard, and disrespect, her identity as a trans-woman. There is so much to be learned from Jennifer Gale, and so much to be worked on in our community."
She didn't deserve to die. I know the logic when it comes to the homeless - they did something to deserve it, they're deranged, they should just get a job, providing enough shelters would be too expensive, helping them with a handout like a warm bed or food isn't really helping them, they should just get off the hooch. And you know what? It's all bullshit. We live in a culture that believes that isn't generous enough to provide the basics to everyone and often actively hates the homeless.
And the people who are willing to help the homeless are often homophobic and transphobic. Like the Salvation Army.
It may seem petty to point it out. They are doing some good work. It's needed. I get that.
But turning away transgender people from a shelter (or making it so undesirable to be there that they have no choice but to leave) isn't OK. It makes people die. People like Jennifer Gale.
I know, the Salvation Army is improving the world by at least taking in some people. The people who do receive their services shouldn't be punished because of their discriminatory policies.
But I have a problem with an organization that picks and chooses who it wants to help based on prejudice. There's no excuse for that. It's an attempt to control the people that they're supposed to be helping and that makes it less an act of generosity and more an attempt to gain power.
There are alternatives. The Ali Forney Center in New York and the Jeff Griffith Center in LA, which both cater to LGBT youth. And they're both in desperate need of cash. Please donate to them instead of the Salvation Army, because if we don't support these shelters, who will?
The Salvation Army also practices hiring discrimination against queer people. But this, to me, is materially worse. Someone died.
So I don't put money in the red bucket and I'm not a Scrooge for not doing so.