Part 2 in a 3 Part Series. Click here to read Part 1.
She began to rush me screaming a series of transphobic slurs in my direction; she was holding a bottle and I knew that was the next thing that would be hurled in my direction. The bottle seemed to fly in slow motion as I opened my car door, slammed it shut, turned on the ignition and hit the acceleration. The bottle exploded at the top of the door and by the time I pulled out of the parking spot, she was in the middle of the street chasing my car. All this for simply being transgender.
I didn’t report the incident to the police because a friend of mine lived in the same building as this person and was already being abused by her. I felt that if I reported the incident, there would be retaliation against my friend. This wasn’t the first act of trans-violence against me and six months later, it certainly hasn’t been the last.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an organization dedicated to fighting hate, extremism and protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Finding statistics on transgender violence is difficult and surprisingly, the SPLC has not issued a report on transgender violence since 2003; that is where Trans Advocate Allison Woolbert steps into the picture.
Allison Woolbert, using her experience as a Maintenance Statistical Analyst in the Air Force, launched the Transgender Violence Tracking Program in March of 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign in October of 2013. The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal (TVTP) is a data collection project dedicated to the monitoring, collecting and analyzing all reported murders, violence, suicides, silicone harms and missing persons against transgender and gender variant people internationally. She has also recently launched TERF Tracker, a site dedicated to outing TERF’s [Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists] that have been bullying, outing, doxxing (publishing personally identifying information) and trying to humiliate transgender individuals for years.
I had the opportunity to speak with Allison Woolbert about the TVTP and TERF Tracker to find out how she is filling a need that previously did not exist.
What prompted you to start the TVTP?
An acquaintance of mine from New Brunswick, NJ was brutally murdered. When reporters called me, I had no way to find out current data on transgender violence due to that no collection portal was available. This became incredibly problematic as we had an opportunity that was going to allow us to open up the discussion to the broader public and raise awareness. I’ve been contemplating this system for over five years. Given the death was a few miles from my home, I decided the time was right to begin the project and finally bring about a tool that our community has needed for quite some time.
Why was it important to you to start the TVTP?
I believe that with clear, concise verifiable data, we can then give the press, researchers and other interested allies valuable information that tells the true verifiable facts of what transgender people live with every day. As a data analyst and computer programmer for 30 years, I realize how important having good data is to gaining traction in changing legislation as well as individuals perspective on subject matter. When you can bring in data that is validated, you can bring more relevance and belief to the subject matter. Our community has long needed solid figures that the public can see are validated and researched. I believe if the community reports in what is happening, that we can see substantial changes in the human rights we need.
Tell me about TERF Tracker:
Far too often, members of Gender Identity Watch (GIW) create pseudo accounts all over the web and Facebook. They infiltrate our lives, our accounts and our friends through their antics and deceptions. TERF Tracker was designed so that we could now put their faces, their lives and their false accounts up where we can search and protect ourselves. When we run into these hateful people, we have a right to know who they are and stop the infiltration of hate. GIW has been very vocal about getting doxed. They are a highly hypocritical organization much like all other hate groups.
Why have you become a target of Gender Identity Watch?
GIW is a small group of very hateful women. In essence they attack and hate anyone who will not meet their demands. They are the KKK of the transgender movement and frankly they are nothing more than a tiny fringe of haters, just as the KKK is. This group and its members we classified as a Hate Group several months back. The vitriol, fear and hate that this group exhibits is nothing more than a few individuals who cannot resolve their own fears. GIW targeted me because I’m vocal against their hate. While Southern Poverty Law Center has refused again and again to list them as a Hate Group, the TVTP has listed them and will continue to monitor and report on the hate and violence they push at the transgender community. Given I’m the founder and Executive Director; I am an easy target of their spew. The key is not that they are targeting me. The key is that more and more feminists are becoming aware of their hatred and are ultimately fighting back against them.
Do you feel that G.I.W is a little nervous about TERF tracker launching?
Well, they certainly haven’t embraced it. GIW is being exposed one member at a time, in great detail. It’s the right time in our movement to bring greater awareness as to the hatred this group exhibits, and put the faces out there for the world to see.Beside TERF Tracker and TVTP, are you working on anything else? [Like it’s not enough] We continue to grow both of these projects at this point in time. Next week I’ll be making an announcement as to a new focused mission organization that will be able to encompass even more work than just the TVTP and TERF Tracker. You’ll be able to read about it on www.transviolencetracker.org.
Thank you Allison Woolbert for taking the time to talk to me today.
As I write my articles, I participate in online music related forums talking about our favorite bands or music. I spent almost 25 years in the business end of the music industry and music runs deep through my veins. The conversation about a certain band was flowing until it suddenly turned on me. “Claire is a boy…or used to be” one of the participants posted. At that point, the conversation about music was over and focused on me. I quickly exited the site.
Three messages popped up on my computer from one of the participants of the forum that stated the following.
“I didn’t make fun of you for being a tranny”
“I think that whole convo went way too far”
“I just pointed it out cuz guys were calling you a girl”
It’s common for me to get harassing messages and it’s at the point of it not affecting me. Prior to the TVTP being launched, it was BLOCK…Laugh…Move on. The difference now is that thanks to Allison Woolbert, I have a place to report these actions into a national database for tracking and my voice is being heard. Please visit the TVTP for more information and to report violence. Hate is hate.
To read more of Claire Kohner’s writing, visit clairekohner.wordpress.com.