When Activism Hurts Victims

Originally published on Curve Magazine by Victoria A. Brownworth

[The] Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Laverne Cox chose to champion [Synthia China Blast, the rapist and murderer of Ebony Williams], not the non-violent Chelsea Manning, about whom I reported for The Advocate for three years during her brutal incarceration prior to trial, nor Whitney Lee, another non-violent trans woman serving a three-year sentence at Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio on forgery and theft charges nor many other non-violent trans offenders.
Those of us who have long campaigned for better treatment of LGBT prisoners (I’ve been writing about this issue in Curve and other publications since 1993) certainly agree with the premise of SRLP’s campaign for better treatment of gender non-conforming prisoners. And Cox, guest-starring as a trans woman prisoner on the Netflix prison series, seems tailor-made to jump onto that particular activist bandwagon. The choice of prisoner, however, wasn’t just a public relations misstep, it was an assault on female victims of violent crime.
In dismissing the true victim–the murdered black girl–and focusing on a violent murderer, SRLP and Cox pitted feminists and black activists championing Black Lives Matter against non-violent LGBT prisoners who are in desperate need of help.

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