Trans/Gay Panic Defense Act

Trans/Gay Panic Defense Act

Violet Wise, Copy Editor

The Trans Panic Defense Act sounds absurd, sounds fake: it’s not. The Trans/Gay Panic Defense Acts are legal strategies in which the defendant claims their violent reaction was due to the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the United States, only 16 states have made laws against the Trans panic Defense Act, not including the District of Columbia who outlawed both defenses at the beginning of 2021. 

One would think that, despite the fact these defense acts are legal, the trans/gay panic defense acts must have never held up in court. “I can’t walk through the streets without feeling like someone’s going to attack me because I’m not equal to them.” sophomore Larry Smith said, a trans (FTM) student at Bullitt East.

Larry Smith has been out as trans for four years and counting, he faces discrimination every day. Whether that be people demanding he dress masculine to reinforce his gender identity, or people refusing to call him by his preferred name and pronouns. “Someone could shoot me and plead ‘this person frightened me because their gender identity is different than what they were born as,’ and if you ask me, it’s pretty damn stupid,” Smith said. 

While the other 44 states don’t have any laws condoning the Trans/gay defense act, not outlawing them has still led to what would originally be seen as a hate crime, get reduced. The trans/gay panic defense act doesn’t often get people further than removing hate crime charges, which can remove prison sentences from 10 to life. “It’s a situation of I can get away with killing a gay or trans person simply because I don’t like them or they’re going against my personal beliefs,” Smith said.

“It shouldn’t matter what’s in my pants anyway. My gender identity shouldn’t be obvious to people outside of my body. If I pass as a male, or if I pass as a female,  shouldn’t get me assaulted or killed simply because ‘the person panicked and decided to defend themselves,'” Smith said. 

The first state to outlaw both of these defenses was California, who outlawed both of them in 2011. It took almost 8 years before some other states began to follow suit. In mid to late 2020 the trans/gay panic defense act began to gather some attention when there was a surge of people talking about it briefly on social media after it was outlawed in the District of Columbia. 

The real focus is getting all 50 states and all United States territories to outlaw this. It’s a long shot, but it’s the end goal. The biggest change we, as minors who cannot yet vote, can make is to sign petitions and spread awareness. 

We may not be able to vote but we still have voices, voices that we can use.