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Reflections as 2011 Comes to a Close (2011)

Reflections as 2011 Comes to a Close (2011)

©2011 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (2011, 12 December). Reflections as 2011 comes to a close. TG Forum.


TG Forum Post



Back in 1989 I heard the story of Big Rhonda, a transsexual who was to transsexualism as entrepreneur Neil Cargile was to crossdressing. Rhonda had been by all accounts larger than life, too tall, too wide, too everything to pass successfully as a woman. And so she cared not one whit whether she passed or not. She was being who she was and was comfortable with herself and the world around her.

Unfortunately, Rhonda lived in Alabama, where, in the late ’80s she was shot and killed by a redneck who told authorities, “I always wanted to kill a queer.”

The lesson to be learned in Atlanta in 1989 was this: we were on our own. Rhonda’s murderer got off scot-free, and so would ours, if it came to that. Society’s checks and balances didn’t apply to us because we were so very far outside the pale.

As 2011 draws to a close, I’m gratified to know our killers no longer automatically go free, and horrified to know we are still getting abused, killed, and discriminated against with astonishing regularity.

This year saw a horrific attack of a transwoman by another customer at a Baltimore McDonalds and an unjustified Tasering of a transsexual woman by rangers of the Bureau of Land Management.

Twenty-two-year-old Chrissy Lee Polis was dragged from the toilet in the womens’ bathroom by two teenage girls, ages 14 and 18. The reasons for the attack are still in dispute, but what isn’t in dispute is the behavior of Vernon Hackett, the employee who videotaped the attack and immediately posted it on the Internet. Hackett was subsequently fired.

Forty-three-year-old Brooke Fantelli of San Diego was Tasered in the crotch by rangers as she stood calmly with hands up; she had just told them she had been born a man. The attack on Fantelli was also videotaped via cell phone.

The difference in these cases and Rhonda’s is one of blow-back. Polis’ case resulted in an immediate outcry. The Internet lit up like a candle, there were vigils and petitions, and there was talk about hate crimes charges for the attackers. In September 18-year-old Teonna Monae Brown was sentenced to five years for assault; the identity of the 14-year-old has been withheld by authorities.*

It’s a bit early to report on the reaction to Fantellis’ assault, but so far Bureau of Land Management officials are saying its officers acted appropriately—even as to the placement of the Taser dart. I expect this one will be huge as well.

What a difference twenty-something years makes!

I just wish Big Rhonda had lived to see it.

* Because the victim at McDonalds was white and her attackers were black, there has been dissension about whether the attacks were motivated by race or gender, or both. Many commenters on the story see it as a racial issue and not one of gender, and according to The Bilerico Project, which quoted the Daily Mail, the Maryland state Attorney General looked for justification to file charges for a racially-motivated hate crime.


Berendt, John. (1995, 16 January). High-heel Neil. The New Yorker, 38-45. You can read the article for a fee here.
Forman, Ross. (2011, 24 April). Outrage after trans attack in Baltimore. Windy City Times. Read the article here.
Quigley, Rachel. (2011, 6 December). Horrific moment transgender woman was tasered in crotch by rangers when they found out she was born a man. Daily Mail Online. Read here; scroll down for video.