by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Tommi Avicolli Mecca
San Francisco, California, US
July 25
I am a writer, performer and activist, editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: the early years of gay liberation (City Lights), and co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus and Hey Paesan: Writings by Italian American Lesbians and Gay Men. To view my creative stuff:


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APRIL 11, 2011 10:43AM

Anti-transgender violence: when does it end?

Rate: 8 Flag

I still remember how scary it was to be gender non conforming 40 years ago. 


Not only in school where, as a sissy, I sometimes suffered the insults and blows of classmates who today might be seen as caricatures of South Philly toughs, but also after coming out and deciding to let my hair down and my inner drag queen out of the closet.


Walking the streets of Philly in the early 70s in drag, I had to be constantly aware of who was on all sides of me and what they were doing. Groups of kids hanging out on a corner up ahead, better cross the street or turn around and go another way.


Back then, people didn’t differentiate between “faggot” and drag queen (or gender non-conforming, as we say now). They only saw “faggot.” And faggot was something to be ridiculed, attacked or murdered.


Even though David Bowie and a handful of other “glitter rock” stars dared to go where no man had ever gone before, the word on the street was that it was still not cool to be seen in long frizzy hair and mascara, with yellow platform shoes (with red hearts on them) and green, skin-tight hot pants. I didn’t have fashion sense, even in those days.


Questioning gender was a vital part of the gay liberation ideology espoused by the groups that formed right after the Stonewall Riots, which were, of course, led by queens tired of the endless police raids on their spaces (when the mob didn’t pay off the cops). We knew back then that it was indeed the final frontier. Gender was a continuum, we said, like sexual orientation. There was a fluidity to it that many of us in gay liberation wanted to explore and celebrate.


When I walk into a room of younger queers these days, I see the fruits of our labor. There seems to be more acceptance of gender non-conformity among them than there was in my youth. More than I ever thought I’d see in my lifetime.


But one thing hasn’t changed. I am reminded of it every time I hear about another transgender person being attacked or murdered. It’s that vile, senseless hatred that some people feel for those who don’t fit perfectly into one of the two little boxes we’re always asked to check on forms.


It’s more than hatred. It’s this sick need that some people have to strike out at someone they don’t like or understand. It happens with racial/ethnic differences, it happens with immigrants, it happens with so many people who are not liked by someone else. 


It’s irrational and insane, and it occurs all too often. Even here in San Francisco.


A rally is being held this Friday, April 15 (6pm, 16th & Mission BART Station, SF), at the spot where a transgender woman was attacked about two weeks ago. It’s another reminder that, despite all of the progress the LGBT community has made on many fronts, anti-transgender violence continues at an alarming rate. One researcher, Kate Brown, has said that transgender people are 16 times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than anyone else in our society.  


When does it end?

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When does it end? When society no longer feels the need to maintain the illusion that the sexes are fixed, polar opposites. In other words, no time soon. See my post, "Everything and Nothing."
Thank you for this thoughtful post, & the reminder that everyone has the right to feel personal safety and freedom from attack.
Great post and reminder for us all to love one another equally. My hubby is a FTM transman and I wouldn't bear it if this happened to him. Just horrific.

Thanks for this -
There seems to be some bedrock layer of culture that rejects gender nonconformity even more than sexual noncomformity. Then again, there was a new poster on OS the other day who claimed that it's gay men who can "pass" for straight that really set off the homophobes. Truth is, homophobes are homophobes, and they'll find any reason to be jerks. Arguing the finer points of gender theory with them doesn't seem to work too well.
It should end NOW. If I still lived in the Bay Area I'd be at that demo with you.
I believe it is somewhat of a shock to see transgender people. It seems so abnormal to me and at the same time I feel sorry for them having to deal and adjust to gender change. It must be a difficult road to travel. Very difficult. Today, as an older and hopefully "wiser" person, I try to accept their right to be who they need to be and see them as courageous in their journey to be who they are from within.
As years pass, the number of transgenders also grow in number. I have nothing against these transgenders. All I can say is that there will really be a few people that will try to put them down. If they don't want this to happen, then these transgenders shall prove their worth and must learn to respect their own selves so others will respect them, too. If you want to start a conversation with me regarding this topic, check out
When oh when are people going to realize that Transgender, and gender non-conforming people are just like everyone else - get up, go to work if they are lucky enough to find someone to hire them, deal with the same day-to-day things everyone does, and have the same feelings you do. The lack of compassion for anyone who is different does not speak well of our evolution as humans. We all should be demanding that schools address this dysfunction - the lack of compassion for those who are not clones of the majority of the population. That someone died because of how she looked should make all of us hang our heads in shame. People need to stand up and speak out about this. Thank you Tommi.
PS: I have seen photos Tommi's yellow platform shoes that have red hearts on them, and he is correct - he does not have any fashion sense. I imagine he would even think an orange vase is the height of Chic decor!
Thank you for helping to spread awareness, open minds AND help STOP BULLYING. It's what "Falling for Kelli" is about. It's time the world understands and accepts transgender individuals and communities as being equal and deserving of their naturally given rights free from violence and discrimination.