Sacramento based Rob, Arnie, and Dawn in the Morning, on KRXK 98.5, advocated physical violence against transgender children in a May 28 broadcast of their morning show. As the transcript below shows, Arnie said that he would “throw a shoe at [his son]” if he put on high heel shoes in front of him. He later added, “I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down.” These comments were punctuated with name calling from Rob and the misguided attempt to appear sensitive by saying that transgendered youth needed to be counseled out of their gender identity and that they were likely “sexually abused.”
As in the case of other shock jocks, it is nearly impossible to separate what they claim is “harmless entertainment” and what is offensive derision of any given group. Many people assume that morning shows will be filled with racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia and therefore any actual bigotry is parr for the course. However, saying that you would abuse your own child and/or “look forward” to the moment they or other transgendered youth are transbashed is akin to inviting unhinged listeners to go out and commit these acts. We have more than enough examples of shootings, in churches and offices, where the assailants cited conservative talk radio for their fears and their actions. And even if no one is encouraged by this broadcast to act on existing or develop anti-trans sentiment, the bottom line is that this dialogue insults the precarious nature of transgendered and gender non-conforming youth in our society. This year alone, two young boys who may or may not have been gay but were effiminate committed suicide after their gender presentation was used to openly mock both their gender and sexuality at school and as an excuse to threaten their lives and physical and emotionally assualt them on a regular basis. Last year, a child was shot for wearing eye make up and “girl’s clothing” occassionally to his school. The day before the broadcast, a 17 year old shot a trans woman of color twice in the face b/c of her gender. These are only a few of the cases that made national news.
Two reports from GLSEN point out how high the level of harassment and abuse is for LGBTQ students Shared Differences (qwoc) and Harsh Realities (trans youth), which I have linked to before. Despite the relatively low n for transgender participants of color in the former study, both studiers show transphobic experiences still remain quite high. Thus these statistics serve to contextualize exactly what kinds of violence Rob and Arnie are “look[ing] forward” to:
- 66% of transgendered youth of color report being harassed or abused because of their gender
- 26% of Native American students experienced physical violence at home because of their gender or sexuality
- 87% of transgender students report being verbally harassed in school
- 53% of transgendered students were physically harassed (defined as pushing, shoving, and other intimidation techniques) in school
- 26% were physically assaulted
These are the experiences that hardly reflect Arnie’s assertion that “the entire high school caters around.” In fact, many students report that teachers and administrators are part of the problem:
- 20% of transgendered students report teachers and admin did nothing stop transphobic incidents
- 32-39% reported hearing teachers and admin participating in heterosexist &/or transphobic behavior
Worse than all of this, Arnie’s assertion that he “looks forward to . . . when society beats [transgendered people] down” makes light of the number transgendered people who have been physically or sexually abused and/or murdered because of their gender.
- transgendered people have a 1 and 12 chance of being murdered vs. 1 in 18000 chance for cis gendered people (Washington Blade – link not working)
- transgendered victims of hate crimes are more likely to be severely physically and sexually assaulted than cis gender people (HRC)
- Between 1970 and 2008, 288 transgendered people, many of them women, were killed in transphobic violence in N. America (International Transgender Day of Remembrance)
- In 2008, 33 people were killed
(students at MU protest anti-trans verbal assault on their campus stating 90% of have experienced anti-trans verbal assault in school. The Maneater/Katie Currid/ April 2009)
Here is an excerpt of the Morning Show Transcript:
ARNIE STATES [13:27]: If my son, God forbid, if my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes. I would throw a shoe at him. Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heels. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels.
ROB WILLIAMS [17:45]: Dawn, they are freaks. They are abnormal. Not because they’re girls trapped in boys bodies but because they have a mental disorder that needs to be somehow gotten out of them. That’s where therapy could help them.
ROB WILLIAMS [18:15]: Or because they were molested. You know a lot of times these transgenders were molested. And you need to work with them on that. The point is you don’t allow the behavior. You cure the cause!
ARNIE STATES [21:30]: You got a boy saying, ‘I wanna wear dresses.’ I’m going to look at him and go, ‘You know what? You’re a little idiot! You little dumbass! Look, you are a boy! Boys don’t wear dresses.’
ARNIE STATES [29:22]: You know, my favorite part about hearing these stories about the kids in high school, who the entire high school caters around, lets the boy wear the dress. I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down. And they end up in therapy.
Please let the radio station and the shock jocks know that violence against transgendered people is neither funny nor educational. When you do, please express your hurt and anger in a way that they cannot manipulate into “reverse discrimination” or “verbal assault.” It is not about care taking for cis gender people, it is about ensuring the message gets heard.
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