By Suzanne | July 21, 2011
Eric Stanley, co-editor of the forthcoming AK Press book Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, appeared on KPFA’s “Against the Grain” earlier this week to discuss some of the arguments in his recent article “Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological Capture,” which has just been published in the Summer 2011 issue of Social Text.
In this radio interview, he shares some of his research on antiqueer and anti-trans violence (warning: the examples discussed here are extremely disturbing). He explains the idea of “overkill”—the torture, mutilation, and “pageantry” sometimes associated with murders of queer and trans people. In many such murder cases, the idea of “gay panic” or “trans panic”—”the murderer had some sort of cordial relationship with the victim and then discovered their sexuality [or transgender identity] and became so enraged and so fearful that they had to kill them”—has, shockingly, been a successful legal defense. Stanley argues that the motive for overkill is “not only killing that specific queer person or that specific trans person, but about killing queerness at large.”
Tougher hate crimes legislation and sentencing are NOT a solution, he says, as the State (in the form of the Prison Industrial Complex) is still one of the largest perpetrators of anti-trans and anti-queer violence—which is precisely the issue that he and co-editor Nat Smith, along with an excellent roster of contributors, take on in Captive Genders.
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