Alex Blaze

Gender terrorism is worse than bank robbery

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 15, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: AOL, Arizona, bank robbers, gender, insult, violence

The photo at the right appeared in the Arizona Daily Star, and it's from a surveillance camera video of a bank robber. robber.JPEGI don't want the picture to be the center of this post, since I'm not writing about the crime itself, but people's reaction to that picture. The Star ran it with this headline:

Male (bank robbery suspect) or female (bank robbery suspect)? You decide.

Really? I get to decide if other people are male or female? Can I make all the cashiers at the grocery store across the street male?

Here's more from their story:

According to both the Pima County Sheriff's Department and the FBI the robbery, July 21 at the Bank of the West at 3041 S. Kinney Road, was committed by a woman in her 60s who is about 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds.

Readers and callers, though, believe otherwise.

The overwhelming sentiment of those giving us their two cents is the suspect is actually a really small man masquerading as an older woman.

Some of the comments made to back up this belief: the suspect has 'big, bony hands' and the hair is 'obviously a wig covering up a bald head'.

What's your take?

Reader Sara sent in a link to the article on AOL, which doesn't pussyfoot around trying to be polite like the Star did. Here's their headline:

Is This Alleged Bank Robber a Guy or a Gal? You Decide

Hmm. Sounds familiar. Here's a part of the article itself:

Which is why I can go ahead and say this person is allegedly a hermaphroditic cross-dressing pre-op tranny who needs to eat a sandwich and wear taller shoes.

He/she looks like a gender-confused version of the Six Flags "more flags!" guy, only instead of creepy stupid dances, he/she is allegedly robbing a bank.

What's up with this? I honestly don't see how a small frame from a surveillance camera video, already not in the best quality, could make someone so contemptuous that they'd call someone else a "hermaphroditic cross-dressing pre-op tranny who needs to eat a sandwich." I really don't get where that emotion comes from.

It reminds me of a post from Steven Cheslick-DeMeyer on "People of Indeterminate Gender" from a couple months ago, discussing people's real, felt discomfort when they can't tell if another person is a man or a woman, the same discomfort Pat of SNL fame poked fun at.

I'm not uncareful enough to ascribe this to some result of evolutionary psychology, or to even say that this is in-born instead of learned, but I don't have any ideas. All I can say is that I can't bring myself to care about the sex of the person in that picture and that I'm generally more fine with disorder and groundlessness than most people are. The confusion about how to treat another person when people doesn't know their sex and the resulting fear causes anger, and they direct their anger at the "choice" of the other person to reject the rules that make them more comfortable instead of asking themselves if it's really that big of a deal to treat other people like they're human first and a sex second.

But that's just my idea. What about you?


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I opened the picture out and took a good look.I see some masculine brow ridging.Personally I could care less if the robber is male, female, or somewhere inbetween.The media should be called to task for reinforcing negative stereotypes that get people hurt.

But not before we first take part in reinforcing negative stereotypes ourselves apparently. Way to completely miss the point amym440.

GAAAA! I blame Jerry Springer, Montel Williams and mostly Maury effing Povich for this whole thing! Maury and his standard “Is it a man or a woman” story line. He’s played that line to tears. This has caused the Transgender (and Intersex) communities a lot of issues. What’s really frustrating is the people on the shows are drag queens.

And then this…

Do they really have to play that tired old game? What are they? 12?

There's something about looking at pixelated grainy images that makes a lot of folks feel like they can issue a judgment. In person you can pick up a lot of information, gain context, investigate things you didn't see right from another angle. From a picture you can only stare closer at the same pixels.

It's like when the advocate posted my picture and all their commenters insisted that I looked like a guy in a wig or that a blurry shadow on my face must be a full beard. Once the question is asked (man or woman? Which gender should go on the APB? Which bathroom should they use, etc) it becomes more an exercise in what people expect to see, and up looking for, and twist the image in their mind to become.

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While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

My sense is that people feel as validated in pointing their sardonic anger at dangerous criminals as they do at transgender folks. Maybe that's why we get killed so often.

I really hope that people read that entire AOL piece. It's particularly disturbing with the author's "sneaky" way of using the word "allegedly" to denigrate trans people. It's particularly disgusting.