07 May 2014

Charges Dropped, But Is Anything Resolved?

The good news:  Battery charges against her were dropped.

The bad news:  She had to complete a conflict-resolution course.

I'm referring to Jewlyes Gomez, the 16-year-old transgender girl who was bullied and harassed by other students in her high school.

She'd put up with the taunting, teasing and physical assaults for years, she said, while no one responded to her complaints.

Finally, she "lost it."  Or, more accurately, she found her sense of dignity and her strength, enough so that she decided she wasn't going to take any more.

Whenever we reach that point--that is to say, whenever we decide to defend ourselves as anyone else, trans or not, would in a similar situation--our tormentors and other people react with shock.  If they don't huff, "How dare you!" or other words to that effect, they accuse us of "overreacting" or simply being "too sensitive".  That's if we're lucky.  Other times, we're told that such abuse "comes with the territory" when we "pursue" our "lifestyle".  In other words, they tell us we "had it coming" to us.

That, essentially, is the message Jewlyes was sent when she was ordered to participate in conflict-resolution training.  

After my experiences with Dominick and others who've harassed and intimidated me in other ways, I've learned that you don't try to "resolve" the conflict or negotiate with them in any way.  When someone is committing violence against you--whether it's physical, mental, verbal or emotional--they, by definition, cannot be negotiated with. Your only choice is to do whatever you have to do to defend yourself.

That said, you should do exactly that: defend--nothing more, nothing less.  It seems that is just what Ms. Gomez did.

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