Sunday, August 3, 2008

Murdered woman called "it"

There is a community of people, disenfranchised, oppressed. They struggle to be seen as real, as fully human. Some move invisibly through the world in order to avoid the hatred much of society expresses with impunity toward known members of their group. Some are ridiculed or threatened for saying who they are. Sometimes they are even killed for no other reason than their minority status. And guess what? The killers often draw lesser sentences for these murders than those who kill more “normal” members of society. Such killings tend to be ignored or glossed over, even by those who would seem naturally positioned to be allies.

The story is familiar, but it isn’t about autism this time. Today, I am taking up a challenge offered by Queen Emily and Lisa Harney. The challenge was addressed to feminist bloggers who have remained silent on the topic of violence against trans women.

I am heeding also the message from Shiva, recently presented at Autscape, a reminder that as advocates for autistic rights we are “part of a wider disability movement and an even wider pro-diversity/anti-discrimination movement.” It’s an important message.

Andrade explained to police that he thought he “killed it,” referring to Zapata but when she made gurgling noises and started to sit up, he hit her with
the extinguisher again.

Killed “it.” It.

If I would be outraged (and I would) if this referred to the killing of an autistic person, and if I would not be outraged at an identical hate crime toward another minority person, I would be a bigot. I would be complicit to some extent.

Neurodiversity is bigger than autism. Diversity is bigger. I write about autism here because I see it as the center of my being and my story, not because I think that one kind of diversity is better or more important than another. Because I am only one person. Not because autistics matter more than other people. We matter exactly as much. So did Angie Zapata.
Angie Zapata was murdered on July 17, 2008. She was 20 years old.


  1. I'm glad to see Shiva's blog mentioned. Why isn't it on the Hub! And yes, we do need to place our advocacy efforts in the context of the wider 'rights movement' and Shiva, I'm sure, will be happy to guide us. I vote for immediate inclusion on the Hub!

  2. Not all that uncommon to use "it" as a way of saying you're not a real person; happens all the time in child-abuse cases, apparently. I've been called that, by my ex-stepfather, a couple of times. It's humiliating. And at the time I didn't even have any diagnosis...

    Incidentally, saying "it" can also be a way of nullifying your target's gender--especially if your target is female. It allows you to hurt someone if you generally don't hurt females.

    What power language has!

  3. I agree with all of the points Socrates has made.

  4. :( She is the same age as me. Poor woman.

    The saddest thing that the man hit her a second time when he realised she was still alive.

  5. Absolutely Shiva belongs on the Hub. I have wondered about this before.

  6. I am horrified by the types of comments many people have made in other blogs and in the media about this crime. There is a rancid-tacit acceptance of this crime as if it were somehow understandable. As a society we should have NO tolerance for such barbaric hate. It points up how society only views some people as truly valuable and thus worthy of rights. The voices of diversity must be raised in dignity and volume. Had this been a "normal" anatomically female 20 year old.... would the charge against her assailant be murder 2 or murder 1 --I'd bet the later.

  7. Thanks for the flattery... but, er, i'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of "guiding" anyone. I just post my own opinions, basically...

    As for the Autism Hub - a) i have no idea whatsoever how to get onto the Hub (TBH, i thought it was invitation only - i certainly haven't found any way to apply to join it), and b) i thought it was for bloggers who blog only, or at least mainly, about autism, and since i blog about such a random variety of other stuff, i thought my blog might not be "appropriate" for it...

    Thanks for linking, tho...

  8. I can understand it. I just can't excuse it. The same goes for killing a 20 year old NT woman. Just think of a time when you were very angry, when someone in your life annoyed you... add a lack of inhibition and a willing ignorance of what other people feel... Magnify that a thousandfold... Then you'll have the 'why'. If, time after time, an average human being were to ignore his conscience and listen to his anger, eventually and inevitably he would become a murderer.

    I hope he gets the death penalty.

  9. Shiva, Hub bloggers blog about all sorts of stuff, including our personal interests. In the big picture, everything's related...


  10. "I hope he gets the death penalty."

    All human beings have the right not to be murdered. That includes this guy. What he did was terrible, but his death will not bring Angie Zapata back. It will just mean one mpre family grieves.

    Human rights are universal. They are not just for people who respect the right to life of others.

  11. Bev, I'm glad you wrote about this awful event. That poor girl, what utterly barbaric and cruel treatment. I also abhor state sponsored murder, but I hope the man who killed her, is put in prison for a very, very long time.

    It is strange when you see stuff written by people you'd expect to understand, like the response of many feminists to the Ashley X mistreatment. I suppose it's the same thing here.

    Shiva, send an email to admin at with a link to your blog. Great blogs like yours, with posts on a range of subjects, are certainly what the Hub needs.

  12. sanibituranima,

    I agree. Thank you for stating this.

  13. Bev, thank you for posting this - and sorry I didn't respond sooner.


    Yes - that's one of the reasons the whole "heat of the moment" thing doesn't fly. Yes, he beat Angie down until he thought she was dead. She moved and he did it again.

    Then he ran up her credit cards and stole her car. Surely the acts of a man in the throes of murderous passion. :(

    Also, I am opposed to the death penalty for the reasons you state, but also the fact that innocent people have been on death row (and a few have managed to get exonerated later thanks to DNA testing). The simple fact that the justice system is flawed and innocent people can be convicted makes the death penalty that much more difficult to justify.

    But I do want to see this man locked away until he rots. I want to see everyone who kills like this to be locked away until they rot. The ones who kill people because of who and what they are, and admit it, doctoring their narrative of the crime to make themselves look like victims - whether it's parents of children with disabilities who complain that they didn't have enough support or guys like Andrade.

  14. I believe even this man can change. He should be in prison for a ong time, until we can be sure he will not do anything like this again and as a warning to anyone who would contemplate murder. But I believe that allhuman have the capacity for good and evil. This man has displayed his capacity for evil in an utterly horrific way, but that doesn't mean he can never do any good. He has ripped a life from the world before it was her time to leave. Apart from anything else, it is unfair to the world to let that man rot and not get him to put some good back into the world after doing so much damage.

    Out of curiosity, I wonder what group people thought Bev was referring to when they realised she didn't mean autistics, but before they realised she meant transpeople. I assumed she either meant immigrants or people with MR.

    1. Thank you for believing in the possibility of redemption. I have seen horrible people change in my life. People I had once written off as lost causes. I no longer feel that people who have done bad things have no hope. This is why we need a true rehabilitative system instead of our current for profit Prison Industrial Complex which every day is more and more eager to increase its prison pipeline.


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