Honor killings occur frequently in countries like Pakistan and India, where old-school laws still preside over rural populations more than the rule of actual law. The same is true in certain countries in Africa. To a lesser extent, these murders occur in the United Kingdom. But believe it or not, they occur in the United States too — albeit very rarely. These murders are usually carried out by individual family members who feel they have been shamed.
But what if we changed the definition of “honor killing” to include violent actions taken by society as a whole against certain types of people? LGBTQ individuals are routinely targeted by those who would carry out a random violent act, and transgender individuals are the biggest target of all. Why is that? And what can we do to increase awareness in the United States and abroad?
One of the primary psychological reasons that human beings commit murder is indifference to what is different. Although most people remain curious about that which they do not understand, those same people might still resort to violence too — because psychologically, we’re always afraid of what we don’t really understand. And we don’t understand things we don’t see very often.
An old granny might say that she doesn’t believe being gay is morally right because she doesn’t think two men or women holding hands looks normal. But you might follow up her asinine comment by asking if an African American couple walking down a predominantly white neighborhood’s street looks normal. The truth is this: anything we don’t see often is bound to look a little unusual. But that certainly doesn’t make it morally wrong.
An anonymous lawyer from the Fullman Firm pointed out that many of their debt relief clients had been victims of a random act of violence. And without a perpetrator, no restitution or civil suit could be filed — leaving the victim to pay for hefty medical bills themselves. Although it’s his job to deal with the financial impact, he said he thinks the emotional impact is the heavier burden by far.
We recently discussed a change to Maryland law that would allow transgender individuals to change their names without jumping through hoops or publishing the name change in a local paper — which the law previously upheld.
In the United States, bills have popped up all over the place in order to bar transgender kids from sports. For example, a South Dakota bill would prevent a transgender girl from playing on a girl’s sports team, and a transgender boy from playinig on a boy’s sports team. Hundreds of teachers, students, parents, and sports players responded by writing a letter to the governor to request a veto of the bill on the basis that it harms transgender individuals.
They wrote, “Research suggests that transgender children are more likely to face significant mental health stressors and have higher rates of obesity and disordered eating than their cisgender peers. Often, transgender students also face isolation and exclusion in school environments, which threaten their physical and mental well-being as well as their ability to learn.”