TW: murder, transphobia, transmisogyny, transmisogynistic slurs, cannibalism, sex-worker-phobia, sex-worker-phobic slurs
Yesterday, major news outlets discovered that Mayang Prasetyo, a transgender woman of colour, was murdered and in the process of being cooked and eaten by her husband, Marcus Volke. Media outlets have been quick to report that Ms Prasetyo was a “transgendered prostitute” and rush to the defense of Mr Volke, citing his “outspoken opposition of violence against women”. This victim blaming tactic is despicable, and creates further stigmas and stereotypes about the transgender community – a community which already has so many obstacles to overcome. Adding the fact that Ms Prasetyo was a woman of colour, and a sex worker as well, and we begin to see how astronomical the rates of violence are against society’s most oppressed.
This idea that newspapers such as the Courier Mail, with its appalling story and headlines, can get away with such transphobic and sex worker phobic vitriol is disgusting. All human beings deserve to be treated respectfully and decently – even Mr Volke, who in most of these articles is being paraded as a virtuous paragon who lost his way. The entitlement of major news channels to trans bodies, and narratives is appalling. There are some good news reports that have come out of this, especially the Guardian’s article. The focus of the media should be on how society has sat there and done nothing to help this poor woman, and other trans people in society are made to feel unwelcome and undervalued.
What is perhaps most shocking, however, is that the media outed Ms Prasetyo to her family, and to the rest of the world when the first stories were published. To out a trans person is an unforgiveable act – many trans women who are not out are in that position because being out would render them unsafe. As a trans woman myself, I completely understand why Ms Prasetyo would not feel comfortable being out in today’s society – the media’s response and use of bigoted language is enough to prove that society is not safe for us.
The constant entitlement complex of the media to our bodies, our narratives, our lives only proves one thing – in the eyes of society, we are worthless, we are doomed, and we deserve to be laughed at. A truly equal and just society would pay Ms Prasetyo the respect she deserves, and create more services to help sufferers of domestic abuse, to help transgender women, and to help sex workers. All of these support systems combined could have saved Ms Prasetyo – so it is about time these systems were implemented.