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*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.

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Friday, March 6 • 2:25pm - 3:25pm
Justice for TransWomen: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of the “Trans Panic” Defense

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Transgender, or trans, refers to individuals whose gender identity is not concordant with their biological sex. The trans panic claim is a defense that has been applied in assaults on transgender persons, typically transwomen. In most invocations of this defense, a heterosexual male engaged in a romantic or sexual relationship with an individual whom he perceives to be biologically female is confronted with the victim’s transgender identity; the offender unleashes an uncontrollable rage in an assault on the transgender victim. Trans panic defenses allege that these crimes entail temporary insanity or are justifiable due to provocation by the victim. By mitigating punishment for a murder by categorizing it as manslaughter, the Court devalues the lives of transwomen and curtails their liberties of self-expression. Furthermore, the concept of trans panic as a defense appears to conflict with hate crime legislation, which seeks to increase penalties for bias-motivated crimes. The American Bar Association (2013) has made a plea to legislators to abolish the gay and trans panic defenses, “which seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction.” They stated that “neither a non-violent sexual advance, nor the discovery of a person’s sex or gender identity, constitutes legally adequate provocation to mitigate the crime of murder to manslaughter, or to mitigate the severity of any non-capital crime.” This presentation evaluates the trans panic defense theoretically and empirically. This is the first known effort to evaluate the validity of such defenses empirically. Empirical findings support the author’s position that trans panic cases would are a subset of hate crime, rather than a subset of manslaughter. The significant implications for sentencing and restorative justice are discussed.


Friday March 6, 2015 2:25pm - 3:25pm
Redwood