As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
PONTIAC – On Oct. 19, in separate incidents, two gay men and two transgender women were assaulted in Pontiac.
“We are horrified,” said Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan.
“We are working with Triangle Foundation in their efforts to work with that situation. We think that it’s important that everybody, everywhere know and say that it is not okay for this to happen. And I look forward to the [perpetrators] being caught and being fully prosecuted,” said Crandall.
According to a statement police spokesman Sgt. William Ware gave the Oakland Press Oct. 25, bigotry may have been a motive in the attack on the two trans women.
“The person (who attacked them) was calling them names and taunting them,” while following the women home from the Liberty Bar according to Sgt. Ware.
Police did not have a good description of the suspects in the assault at press time.
“The description of the perpetrators varies between the two victims,” said Detective Jaclyn Wilton, who is working on the case. “I think there were some very serious injuries to the two victims, and perhaps some memory loss and confusion. We’re looking for anyone who has any information to share that with us.”
The description police did have is of two clean-cut Caucasian men, possibly driving a black pickup truck.
Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky said that his organization is interviewing potential witnesses and working with law enforcement “to insure that our community is safe in Pontiac.”
If you know anything about the assault on the two transgender women in Pontiac on the night of Oct. 19, please call Detective Jaclyn Wilton of the Pontiac police department at 248-758-3396.
The second attack involved two men leaving the Pink Flamingo bar who were assaulted and robbed. According to Triangle Foundation victim advocate Crystal Witt, one of the men was hit in the face during the robbery. However, according to the Pontiac police, this incident was not being categorized as a hate crime.
“We’ve been working on a string of robberies – the suspects in the Pink Flamingo robbery match the description of the suspects on those other robberies,” Sgt. Ware said. “We’ve had quite a few in that area. They’re just picking people at random. In fact, we had one last night, and that was a Laotian person. They [the gay men] weren’t targeted.”
Oakland Press mis-identifies trans victims
The Tuesday, Oct. 25 edition of the Oakland Press identified the two transgender victims of the Oct. 19 assault as “two gays.”
The report repeated the mistake in the second paragraph, saying, “The two men, one of whom cross-dresses and the other is transgendered…”
“We are aware of that [the Oakland Press’ mistake] and we are going to offer our comments on that,” said TransGender Michigan’s Crandall. “That is not an appropriate way of referring to them, and it is unfortunate that some publications still make that crucial mistake.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not necessarily related, nor is it appropriate to refer to a male-to-female transgender individual as male.
Garry Gilbert, executive editor of the Oakland Press, can be reached at 248-745-4605 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky, “Everyone in the GLBT community must be very careful, very alert when they’re leaving bars and bookstores and other venues like them. This might signal the rise of more incidents in Pontiac, or it may not, but folks need to take very careful precautions.” Kosofsky made the following recommendations:
1. Be incredibly aware of your surroundings. Are there individuals present who don’t look like they belong there?
2. Park and walk in well-lit areas. If private parking is available, that is the safest option.
3. Travel in groups. Have folks walk you to your car or other places. Not only is there safety in numbers, you’ll also have witnesses if anything does happen.