Although about a month late, we are sharing this post from another sister of resistance, who organizes with BAYAN USA via the New York Committee of Human Rights in the Philippines. Her piece is a reflection on last month’s stomach-turning murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman, by a US Marine, Joseph Pemberton. This is only one of many incidents of violence against Filipinas by US military personnel, who due to longstanding colonial and imperialist relationships are enabled to continue to impinge upon Filipino rights and sovereignty. But Jennifer’s murder, framed by racism, sexism, and the economic domination of the US over the Philippines, was also complicated by a violent transmisogyny which was perpetuated by news outlets in the coverage that followed. Trans people, and particularly trans women, are continuously at risk of violence in the Philippines and elsewhere – only days after Jennifer’s tragic death, according to this Time article, two other trans women were murdered.
A excerpt from the post by our much-loved and respected sister:
As a participant in joint-military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Pemberton is shielded from the punishment of his crime through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The legal system, mired with racism and sexism (at minimum) views Jennifer as subordinate to her murderer’s status – Pemberton, a cis-male, white, a U.S. citizen, and a marine. This is where the outrage lies in Jennifer Laude’s death.
Not many of us notice the ways these policies, discussed and signed behind closed doors in meeting rooms between politicians and ambassadors, threaten the lives of women and transgendered people on a daily basis. Jennifer’s murder is a prime example of how bilateral agreements that live on paper, like the EDCA and VFA, damage the lives of citizens in the Philippines. One death is already too many.