Accused Zapata Killer Didn’t “Snap,” Prosecutor Argues

Ernest Luning

The trial of Allen Andrade, accused of killing transgender woman Angie Zapata of Colorado, got underway last week.

GREELEY — A man who told his girlfriend “gay things must die” — as
he sat in jail accused of bludgeoning an 18-year-old transgender woman
to death with his fists and a fire extinguisher — was laughing and
joking and didn’t really mean it, a defense attorney told jurors
Thursday as the trial of Allen Andrade got under way. “This case is not
about a judgment of lifestyle,” public defender Bradley Martin said in
opening remarks. “This case is about a deception and the reaction to
that deception.”

Andrade, 32, killed Angie Zapata in a fit of rage last summer after
discovering she was transgender, Martin argued, urging jurors to reject
first-degree murder and hate crime charges in the brutal slaying.
“Allen [Andrade] had no idea until right before he started hitting this
person that the person he thought was a she was actually a he,” Martin
said in the Greeley courtroom of Weld County District Court Judge
Marcelo Kopcow.

Nonsense, a prosecutor said, promising to prove that Andrade didn’t
“snap,” as defense attorneys have claimed, and that the accused killer
wasn’t deceived that Angie Zapata was transgender. “This was not a snap
decision,” prosecutor Brandi Nieto told jurors. "The defendant knew for
approximately 36 hours that Angie was biologically male.”

Attorneys spent two and a half days selecting a jury
of 10 men and four women — including two alternates, who won’t be
designated until the trial has concluded — before beginning testimony
in the landmark case, the first in the nation to charge a
bias-motivated, or hate crime in the murder of a transgender victim.
Colorado is among 11 states and the District of Columbia that include
protection for transgender victims in hate-crime statutes.

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Quoting from transcripts of jailhouse telephone calls Andrade made
to girlfriends, Nieto drove home the prosecution’s contention that
Andrade committed a hate crime when he pounded a fire extinguisher
against Zapata’s head, crushing her skull and leaving her “bloody,
stiff and swollen on the floor,” covered with a blanket, the way
Zapata’s sister discovered her the next day.

“It’s not like I went up to a school teacher and shot her in the
head or killed a straight, law-abiding citizen,” Andrade told a
girlfriend on the phone from jail. Another time Andrade disparaged a
“pink-shirt wearing motherfucker,” and said “gay things must die.”

“The evidence will show someone who abhors homosexuals,” Nieto said.
“Someone who hates transgenders and killed Angie because of it.”

Andrade’s defense attorney, however, pointed to the same calls as
evidence his client could hardly believe he stood accused of a hate
crime. Andrade and his girlfriend “are laughing and joking during the
whole thing,” Martin said, as the two appreciate the absurdity that
Andrade is “being held in custody on a bias-motivated crime charge he
knows he didn’t commit.”

Jurors won’t hear evidence that Andrade belonged to a homophobic
street gang that threatens to kill members who have had homosexual sex.
Last month, the trial judge threw out testimony prosecutors had hoped
to introduce that Andrade feared for his life after having oral sex
with Zapata so decided to kill her to save face with his gang.

Both sides agree Andrade stole a car, credit card, purses and a cell
phone from Zapata, and are only asking the jury to decide whether he
killed her after deliberation or in a rage — and whether he killed her
because she was transgender. It could mean the difference between a
sentence of life without the possibility of parole for a first-degree
murder conviction or an eight- to 24-year sentence for second-degree
murder. Conviction on Colorado’s hate-crimes law could add three years to Andrade’s sentence.

In December, prosecutors filed habitual criminal counts against Andrade,
based on prior felony convictions, which could quadruple any sentence
he might receive. He also faces automobile theft and identity theft
charges.

Andrade has been held without bond since his arrest in July, nearly
two weeks after Zapata’s body was discovered on the floor of her
Greeley apartment the day after she was murdered. Police arrested
Andrade sitting outside his Thornton apartment blasting the stereo in a
stolen car that belonged to Zapata’s sister. The accused killer told
police he met Zapata on an Internet dating site and spent the night
with her. Andrade said he received oral sex from Zapata but didn’t
discover she was transgender until the next day when photographs he’d
seen in her apartment raised his suspicions.

Zapata smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman” when he grabbed at
her crotch and felt a penis, throwing him into a rage, Andrade told
police. He admitted knocking Zapata to the ground and then bashing her
head with a fire extinguisher. Andrade told police he thought he had “killed it,”
according to court documents. While cleaning the apartment to remove
traces of his presence, Andrade struck her again with the fire
extinguisher when she made a “gurgling” noise and tried to sit up,
before fleeing with her possessions, including the fire extinguisher.

When Andrade called Zapata “it,” the defense attorney said in
opening remarks, he was simply exhibiting the same natural confusion
many felt about the transgender teen, who had been living as a woman
for years. “You’re also going to hear [Andrade] refer to Justin as an
‘it,’ ” Martin told jurors, using Zapata’s birth name as he did nearly
every time he called the victim by name. Even police got confused, the
lawyer said, adding, “Their own police reports switched back and forth
between referring to Justin as a he and as a she.” Martin didn’t say
whether police ever called the victim “it.”

Jurors likely won’t hear most of the account Andrade gave police the night he was arrested because Kopcow threw out most of Andrade’s confession obtained after he told investigators he wanted to stop talking.

Prosecutors plan to tell a different story, Nieto said. Phone
records show the two exchanged nearly 700 calls and text messages in
the week before Zapata’s murder, perhaps because Zapata was looking for
a roommate. And though the two spent plenty of time in the close
quarters of Zapata’s tiny apartment, Nieto said prosecutors plan to
introduce DNA evidence proving Zapata didn’t engage in any sexual
activity prior to her murder.

The day before she was killed, Andrade accompanied Zapata to municipal court and was there when they called the case, Greeley vs. Justin Zapata,
Nieto said, putting into question Andrade’s claim he only discovered
she was transgender the moment before he started pummeling her.
Prosecutors plan to call court officials to testify that Zapata often
showed up for traffic court with her sister or other women, so
Andrade’s presence set off a round of “office gossip,” Nieto said.
“Everyone knew Angie was transgender,” she said, and the presence of
Andrade at her side set tongues wagging.

Perhaps Zapata brought a man with her to court, Andrade’s defense
attorney countered in his opening statement, but it wasn’t his client.
“None of them is going to point to Allen Andrade and say, ‘That’s the
man that was here,’” Martin said.

The trial is scheduled to run through next Friday, though the judge
warned jurors a brewing snowstorm could cancel court this Friday.
Defense attorneys indicated Andrade will take the stand to testify in
his own defense, which could happen Thursday if the trial stays on
schedule.

Gay-rights and anti-violence groups have focused on the trial,
hoping to bring attention to dangers faced by transgender people and
others with different gender identities. A publicity campaign launched
last week includes a Web site devoted to Zapata, transgender issues and a call for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act which would strengthen federal hate-crime laws.

Progress Now Colorado paid for an ad featuring Zapta’s family and the slogan “End Hate” that ran in 22 newspapers across the state last week. The group is also sponsoring a visit to Greeley by transgender blogger Autumn Sandeen, who has been covering the Zapata trial via Twitter.

News Abortion

Source: University Didn’t End Abortion Clinic Partnership Because of Anti-Choice Pressure

Nicole Knight

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center ending its decade-long relationship with Albuquerque’s Southwestern Women’s Options prompted speculation that the university had caved to anti-choice protesters.

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center ending its decade-long relationship with Albuquerque’s Southwestern Women’s Options prompted speculation that the university had caved to anti-choice protesters.

UNM had a clinical rotation partnership with Southwestern Women’s Options, meaning that medical residents and fellows undergo training at the center for brief periods. But the speculation surrounding the end of that partnership, first reported by the Albuquerque Journal, has yet to be borne out.

The radical anti-choice group called Operation Rescue has for years targeted Southwestern Women’s Options, one of four facilities in the country to provide third-trimester abortions. The center is one of three providers in the area where university medical fellows learn to perform termination procedures.

The reason for ending the training relationship with Southwestern Women’s Options was left vague in the Journal story, which reported that the publicly funded university was “under new scrutiny about the relationship between clinic director Dr. Curtis Boyd.” School officials cited a “desire for a more academic approach at an out-of-state institution,” the Journal reported, and alluded to Boyd’s position as a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the university as being “under review.”

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An anonymous source with knowledge of the situation told Rewire on Tuesday that Southwestern Women’s Options simply didn’t perform an adequate volume of abortions to train residents and fellows.

The university, in a statement issued Tuesday, reiterated a commitment to abortion procedure training, which is required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and available at facilities besides Southwestern Women’s Options. University medical fellows, for example, undergo training at the UNM Center for Reproductive Health, where abortions are also performed.

The university statement makes no mention of removing Boyd from the faculty.

Boyd responded to requests for comment about his position with the university in a statement. He said, in part, “our expert doctors and staff have long provided training in abortion care for physicians and other health care providers from a number of medical schools, including UNMHSC. Teaching medical providers to perform abortion safely and exposing doctors to compassionate, woman-centered abortion care has always been part of our mission and it always will be.”

Boyd’s statement made no mention of whether his faculty status was in jeopardy. On Tuesday, Boyd remained on the university web site.

Screenshot 2015-12-21 15.13.59

The Journal story also reported that its reporters, “at least one state lawmaker,” and an anti-choice advocacy group “had raised questions” about the fetal tissue donation program at Boyd’s clinic.

Fetal tissue donation is a lawful and voluntary practice that has come under scrutiny after a series of covertly recorded smear videos were edited to make it appear that Planned Parenthood, which accepts voluntary fetal tissue donations at a few facilities, was acting unlawfully. The videos were the work of an anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Every state and federal investigation has so far cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

Even so, anti-choice lawmakers, including those in New Mexico, have used the heavily edited footage as a cudgel against reproductive rights.

State Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) and other legislators, at the request of the New Mexico Alliance for Life, in July questioned top Health Sciences Center officials about the relationship with Boyd’s clinic and the use of “body parts” from women who receive abortion care there, as the Journal reported.

In his statement, Boyd addressed the importance of fetal tissue donation in medical breakthroughs:

Women receiving care at Southwestern Women’s Options have donated fetal tissue to support lifesaving research for years.  Fetal tissue research has made invaluable contributions to world health, including the polio vaccine, and to the survival of babies born prematurely. This is work we should all be in support of—for the lives saved through the research and for the tremendous good it has done for countless individuals and families.

New Mexico’s Republican-led house this year introduced laws to ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation and force abortion patients to receive parental notification, as Rewire has reportedIn an interview with Rewire, Micah McCoy, a spokesman with the ACLU of New Mexico, described the anti-choice bills and protests as a “relentless series of attacks via various avenues [that] ensure that no women can access a safe and legal abortion here in Albuquerque.”

Here’s the full statement from the university in response to the Albuquerque Journal article:

The UNM Health Sciences Center and the UNM Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology remain committed to our Family Planning Fellowship and to providing residency training that meets Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requirements.

Until recently, one segment of the fellowship was being served at the Southwestern Women’s Options clinic. The decision to change rotation sites was a programmatic one meant to enrich the fellows’ experience. In the future they will be sent out of state for this rotation.

The timing of this decision was unrelated to a recent Albuquerque Journal article or our interactions with activists. It is based on our continued commitment to provide the best academic and clinical learning opportunities to our students.

Commentary Sexuality

What Janet Mock Can Teach Us About Womanhood and ‘Realness’

Regina Mahone

While the media has moved on from Piers Morgan's awful interview to the next topic du jour, many of us are still getting around to unpacking Janet Mock’s story and the struggles facing trans people that, unfortunately, continue to be overlooked by mainstream media for the more “titillating” aspects of their stories.

Janet Mock’s memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, does what a 2011 Marie Claire article about her, and many of the other stories told about people coming out as transgender, did not do: It tells her truth in a way that’s not meant to be flattering or heroic, just real.

Since the publication of her book, Mock, a former editor of People.com, has been very clear that her story is not the story of trans women of color. In an interview with Bitch magazine about her book, she said, “This is one story, one book. I am not speaking for all trans women of color; I’m telling my story. To assume I’m somehow representative of all trans women is unfair. I’ve had access and role models and privileges many trans women of color don’t, but I still struggled, and Redefining Realness is about how I got from there to here.”

Redefining Realness may be about one trans woman of color, but it’s a story everyone should read, because the issues she confronts—including identity, poverty, sexual abuse, and self love—are things that are, in one way or another, within our power to change. And for that reason people should be, and seem genuinely interested in, having public conversations about the needs of trans people.

A recent Piers Morgan interview of Mock, however, showed how far the general public has to go when discussing the stories of trans people. After the interview, which I won’t detail here (read Zack Ford’s ThinkProgress piece about it for more, or watch Stephen Colbert get into it with Mock here), Jamilah King at Colorlines nails it when she writes that the interview “was upsetting for many reasons, but especially because Morgan’s questioning implied there’s an inherent deception involved in being transgender.”

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It’s a logic that says that being transgender is a choice, a costume, a scheme put on to dupe cis men. It’s also the same logic at the core of so-called “trans panic” legal defenses, in which cis men accused of killing trans women have, often successfully, argued in court that they were “provoked” to attack their victims after discovering their biological sex. It’s a warped sense of power cloaked in patriarchy that has dug early graves for women like Gwen Araujo and Angie Zapata, teenagers who were violently killed for being themselves.

And even while the Piers Morgan segment and subsequent firestorm have come and gone, transgender people continue to face many of the struggles outlined in Mock’s eloquently written memoir, and much more. That’s the hard-fought win of the written word, in my opinion. Because while the media has moved on to the next topic du jour, many of us are still getting around to unpacking Janet Mock’s story and the struggles facing trans people that, unfortunately, continue to be overlooked by mainstream media for the more “titillating” aspects of their stories. In 2013, for instance, the media couldn’t get it together after Chelsea Manning came out as a trans woman. (Facebook, however, is leading the way for social networking sites by allowing its users in the United States to customize their gender identification.)

Mock shared her truth with her family when she was 13, but her struggles with gender identity began way before then. In her book she describes what it was like growing up in California with her father, who constantly policed her gender, and later back in Hawaii, where she was born, with her mother, who was never able to live up to the image Mock “had projected onto her, the image of the perfect mother,” as she often put the men in her life before Mock and her other children. Mock’s relationship with her younger brother, Chad, also was strained at times when they both were figuring out their respective identities. Mock admits in the book to worrying Chad would be disappointed she was not “being a better big brother” while they were growing up and she was “learning the world, unsure, unstable, wobbly, living somewhere between confusion, discovery, and conviction.” She also had a difficult relationship with many of her schoolmates and educators who failed to “grasp the varied identities, needs, and determinations of trans people” and therefore made her formative years miserable. All of these relationships were managed by Mock under dire circumstances; Mock’s family, both in California and Hawaii, was no stranger to poverty and addiction.

Without support and guidance from her personal network and other trans girls and trans women, without a memoir like Redefining Realness to guide her, she became isolated and an “easier target” for a sexual abuser.

Eight-year-old Mock was sexually abused for two years by her father’s girlfriend’s son and felt certain she “had asked for it” because “this is what happens to sissies,” so she didn’t tell anyone about it. As Mock writes:

The fact that I was feminine and wanted to be seen as girl was something I held close. I was prime prey. He could smell the isolation on me, and I was lured into believing the illusion that he truly saw me. I was a child, dependent, learning, unknowing, trusting, and wiling to do what was asked of me to gain approval and affection.

According to research from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 12 percent of the 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming survey respondents reported experiencing sexual violence while in grades K-12. The 2011 study also found that 78 percent were harassed in K-12 and 35 percent were physically assaulted. In addition, an alarming 41 percent reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population, “with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61%) or sexual assault (64%).”

In her book, Mock explains how it was only after she met her trans friend Wendi—someone whom she could finally see herself in, thus allowing her to begin “openly expressing [her] femininity”—that she felt courageous enough to share her truth with her family. Wendi also helped Mock access the hormones that would help her become more fully herself, sharing her prescription, which was covered under her grandmother’s insurance, until Mock was able to get her own prescription with her mother’s assistance. Mock’s ability to get hormone therapy the way she did before her mother took her to a doctor was a privilege she acknowledges. Indeed, the majority of trans youth are unable to access the health care they need, and unfortunately under our current health-care system that only gets more difficult in adulthood, as Tara Murtha explains here.

Mock described her initial years with Wendi, who is still her good friend:

When I think of this time with Wendi, I’m reminded of the line from Toni Morrison’s Sula: “Nobody was minding us, so we minded ourselves.” I was her sister … We needed each other to create who we were supposed to be.

When she first talked to her mother, she wrote in her book that she conflated her gender and sexuality, saying she was gay, because like most trans youth she “didn’t have a full understanding of” gender. “Saying ‘I think I’m a girl’ would have been absurd for many reasons,” wrote Mock, “including my fear it would be a lot for my mother to handle. I didn’t know trans people existed; I had no idea that it was possible for thirteen-year-old me to become my own woman. That was a fantasy.”

The way that she tells her story, combining references to television shows, pop stars, and real-life scenarios all of us can relate to (such as a first bike ride, or first kiss) with what it was like existing in a world surrounded by people who couldn’t grasp what she needed or who she was—her identity—is stirring.

For example, there’s a passage early in the book when she’s describing her father, who we learn later in the book was addicted to crack cocaine. Her father spent much of her childhood trying to fix her. Years after, he explained to her that “he took it upon himself to change what he believe to be my ‘soft ways.’” She wrote:

“I didn’t want to see it, man,” he admitted. “I tried to be tougher on your ass. I thought I could fix you.”

It would take decades for my father to realize that I didn’t need fixing, and he should have been more focused on his marriage, which was plagued by infidelity, failed expectations, and youth.

The same could be said of many state legislatures that burn midnight oil, wasting taxpayer money to “fix” the “problem” of marriage, or women’s reproductive rights, or health-care reform. They’re so focused on what they perceive as problems, instead of focusing on how to address the actual problems of LGBT violence, unemployment, and high medical costs for those most in need.

Transgender people have a much more difficult time earning a living than other people in the United States. Research shows a staggering 97 percent of transgender workers have been harassed in the office, and 26 percent have lost their job because of their gender status. As such, many trans people are forced to work “in the underground economy” for money (16 percent of respondents in the 2011 study reported doing so).

Growing up without financial privilege, Mock, like other trans women of color, had to take steps to accomplish her goals “toward greater contentment” that at turns compromised her integrity. Where Mock grew up, trans women would engage in sex work in downtown Honolulu. As she explained it:

They came to Merchant Street and took control of their bodies—bodies that were radical in their mere existence in this misogynistic, transphobic, elitist world—because their bodies, their wits, their collective legacy of survival, were tools to care for themselves when their families, our government, and our medical establishment turned their backs.

Which is how Mock, a high school honor student, a class representative, and someone “who wanted to do bigger, better things” ended up working there to help pay for her surgery.

This narrative of trans people taking illegal measures to live their truth is one that has gained some traction in the mainstream recently. On the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, trans actress and activist Laverne Cox’s character, also a trans woman, is serving time in prison for credit card fraud, which she did to pay for her genital reconstruction surgery. But what many of these stories about reconstruction surgery fail to address is what transgender people are seeking that’s “grander than the changing of genitalia.” In Mock’s case, she says, “I was seeking reconciliation with myself.”

Mock wrote, “Having genital reconstruction surgery did not make me better. The procedure made me no longer feel as self-conscious about my body, which made me more confident and helped me to be more completely myself. Like hormones, it enabled me to more fully inhabit my most authentic self.”

The sacrifices transgender people make, often out of desperation, should not be turned into fantasy or sexualized. But that’s what Piers Morgan’s team did when they asked via Twitter, “How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man?” How about asking Janet Mock what it was like for her, not just when she shared her truth, but what her life has been like and what life is like for transgender people in general who lack support and basic services like health care, employment, or housing because of discrimination practices embedded in the system? As Mock, who went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, explains it, we can do more than these “tried-and-true transition stories tailored to the cis gaze.”

Moreover, “transitioning” was not the end of Mock’s journey. She goes on to explain how upon joining the LGBT activist community she quickly noticed, “Women, people of color, trans folks, and especially folks who carried multiple identities were all but absent” from the tables and conversations. “My awakening pushed me to be more vocal about these issues, prompting uncomfortable but necessary conversations about the movement privileging middle- and upper-class cis gay and lesbian rights over the daily access issues plaguing low-income queer and trans youth and LGBT youth of color, communities that carry interlocking identities that are not mutually exclusive, that make them all the more vulnerable to poverty, homelessness, unemployment, HIV/AIDs, hyper-criminlization, violence, and so much more.”

Throughout her book, Mock reminds us that trans people want the freedom to define gender and who they are in their own terms; so let them. “We must abolish the entitlement that deludes us into believing that we have the right to make assumptions about people’s identities and project those assumptions onto their genders and bodies,” wrote Mock. “It is not a woman’s duty to disclose that she’s trans to every person she meets. This is not safe for a myriad of reasons. We must shift the burden of coming out from trans women, and accusing them of hiding or lying, and focus on why it is unsafe for women to be trans.”

I would add that we should also focus on talking to trans girls about identity, womanhood, and breaking the cycle of “othering.” With help from Mock’s #GirlsLikeUs movement, “girls … with something extra” and “just girls” are being empowered to overcome such hostility against them online. Mock explains on her site about the creation of #GirlsLikeUs in 2012 that young women using the Twitter hashtag will “find like-minded sisters whom we can embrace and love and connect with because it’s only in our connecting that we will be more powerful and ensure that our voices and our lives and our struggles and joys matter.” (And judging by this account on the tag’s one-year anniversary, it has enabled connections and much more.) The #RedefiningRealness Tumblr is an extension of that.

“When I am asked how I define womanhood, I often quote feminist author Simone de Beauvoir: ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’ I’ve always been struck by her use of becomes,” wrote Mock. “Becoming is the action that births our womanhood, rather than passive act of being born (an act none of us has a choice in). This short, powerful statement assured me that I have the freedom, in spite of and because of my birth, body, race, gender expectations, and economic resources, to define myself for myself and for others.”

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