Trans woman murdered in Belgrade

January 20, 2009

Serbian flagVia UK Gay News:

BELGRADE, January 20, 2009 – A transsexual person was found dead is her flat in Belgrade at the weekend, the Serbian LGBT group Queeria told UK Gay News last night.

Minja Kochis, aged 39, who had recently undergone a sex change operation, was killed in a rented apartment in Belgrade.

And the relevance of her age and surgical status is?…

“The body was found on Sunday by a friend of the landlord, who came to collect the rent,” said a spokesperson for Queeria said.

“The door to her apartment was not locked and there wasn’t any trace of forced entrance.”

The representative of the landlord had opened the door and entered the house, police said. He found the body lying on her stomach in the living room, beside the bed.

On the floor were traces of blood. He immediately informed the police.

“Investigations by the police determined that Ms Kochis had been stabbed twice in the chest”, the Queeria spokesperson explained.

“A clean knife was founded in the sink – and there was no evidence of robbery.”

“Police are working on the theory that the murderer had washed the knife after the crime to remove traces.”

With no signs of a forced entry into the apartment, the police are working on the theory that the murderer was known to Ms Kochis.

Another stabbing. Another murderer who was apparently known to the victim. Another instance of the media using dehumanising and misgendering irrelevancies in its coverage.

I’m beginning to think the more transphobic inhabitants of Planet Cis aren’t going to stop until they’ve “morally mandated” us all out of existence with extreme prejudice and a selection of our own kitchen knives.

I’m pretty much out of words right now.

RIP Minja Kochis.

9 Responses to “Trans woman murdered in Belgrade”

  1. Anji Says:

    My heart sinks a little lower with every one of these stories that I read. :(

  2. frances Says:

    While I agree the information about her surgery is perhaps unnecessary or irrelevant, it’s fairly common for someone’s age to be included in a news item.

    I’m not sure though where you are reading she was mis-gendered. Nowhere does the article refer to her using incorrect pronouns, nor is there the common and offensive inclusion birth certificate name.

    More to the point though yes, there is a blatant though improving tendency in media to mis-gender or otherwise sensationalise trans* people in any circumstance, be it victims of crime or Patricia Ajuaro in Rio fashion week. Nonetheless without mentioning someone is trans* when there is such a tendency for violence against trans* or queer people to be hate crimes, the reality of the contemporary situation of anti-trans* violence is erased.

    In the same way that a trans* or cis- victim of violence who was also sex-worker is important in that a disproportionate level of violence is directed against people who work in certain parts of this. and without it being talked about, even via sensationalism, there is no way to effect both legal and social change.

  3. queen emily Says:

    The mis-gendering is more subtle than wrong pronouns in this one (which, it is true occurs so often that I suppose we should be grateful it’s avoided that), but what it *does* do is artificialise her gender, suggest it to be less real than cis genders.

    Namely, the headline just says “transsexual murdered in Belgrade.” Not transsexual woman. Not, god forbid, woman and then mention that she’s trans in the body of the article.

    The first line uses the quite strange usage “transsexual person,” as though avoiding using the word “woman.”

    This is third-gendering. Unless there’s reason to believe that she identified as genderqueer or third gender, that’s not right.

  4. SA-ET Says:

    Simply referring to her as female or a woman would have sufficed as every post op I know drops the transsexual part after GRS…let’s don’t even go the transgender route. Then again, if that had been the case there wouldn’t have been a need for this post, now would there have been?

  5. Helen G Says:

    SA-ET: …every post op I know drops the transsexual part after GRS

    Sadly, Minja Kochis can’t be here with us today to tell us for herself definitively, how she self-identified post-GRS.

    As for me, I’m a trans woman, thank you very much, and it really pisses me off when people assume I want to erase that part of my identity just because I’ve passed one particular milestone in the continuing process that is my transition.

    I’m not saying that you’re necessarily making that assumption, I should add, or that what works for me will work for everyone. I’m speaking only for myself – as, I hope, Minja Kochis would, had she not been stabbed to death by an unknown attacker, or maybe attackers.

    Me, I have neither reason nor desire to drop the adjective ‘trans’ and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to be a trans woman – it’s an important part of how I self-define; my identity. My gender identity.

    So there y’go, now you know at least one trans woman who flatly refuses to ‘drop the transsexual part after GRS’. And much good may that knowledge do you. ^_^

  6. queen emily Says:

    Yes SA ET, dropping the transsexual is like a MAGIC PROTECTION against violence. Because murderers they tend to stop for a checklist don’t they.

    1. Transgender? Diediedie.
    2. Transsexual but planning on just being “woman” later? Oh ok, I’ll just thump you once
    3. HBS (or whatever HBS influenced bollocks you’re spouting)? Here’s a lovely box of chocolates.

    Seriously, what the hell. It’s all just not-human to someone who wants you dead, this is why transphobic people use the word “it” so often.

    You’re not hugely familiar with the real world, are you?

  7. frances Says:

    @Queen Emily.
    From my perspective, what you are describing as ‘subtle mis-gendering’ doesn’t artificialise her gender, nor do I read it as third gendering. Nor to be clear am I being an apologist for lazy, stupid or malicious journalism.

    None of how she described her gender or broader identity to herself or to be recognised in the world on terms agreeable to herself change what you answer yourself in your comment to SA ET. Which is to say how do you talk about a trans* hate crime if talking about someone being trans* is so fraught.

    Your suggestion to move the word ‘transsexual’ from the title into the body of the article is disingenuous. How do you suggest such a crime is reported while talking around the heart of the matter, which is that it is a hate crime?

    In Russia when Central Asian students and migrants have been attacked and murdered recently, where they come from and the fact they were murdered by racists targeting their ethnic identity is central to the reporting and response, as it should be.

    For me I would much rather see reporting on all hate crime against people who don’t fit the heteronormative gender proscription even if the language isn’t as respectful as it could be. And that surely is a task for letters to the editor.

  8. Helen G Says:

    frances: For me I would much rather see reporting on all hate crime against people who don’t fit the heteronormative gender proscription even if the language isn’t as respectful as it could be. And that surely is a task for letters to the editor.

    Agreed these news reports need to be given as wide an airing as possible, but I also think the journalists need to tighten up on their language. There are style guidelines available, and if all else fails, they only have to ask.

    I’m not convinced it’s our place to be writing those letters to the editor – the journalists should be showing a little more consideration in the first place. As the saying goes, the brain comes free with the body, so why not use it? :) It’s not much to ask, I think, a little respect for trans people.

  9. queenemily Says:

    Frances, yes I was being slightly disingenuous–no newspaper would just print “woman”. That is I expect rather utopian of me, but it raises certain questions.

    So, yes of course using the word “transsexual” there does help us track the violence, and that’s important.

    But solely using the term, that’s insufficient. If she’d just had SRS, odds are that she identified as a woman and it irritates me that “woman” rarely if ever appears alongside it in headlines about trans women. “Transsexual” is an adjective, not a noun.

    So we do have to ask ourselves, why is the question of just using “woman” not something a newspaper would *ever* consider, but “transsexual” is fine and dandy by itself? Why is it that we accept that the genders of trans women are always foregrounded as the defining feature and never those of their killers? When Helen posted the headline ‘Cis man murders woman’ recently it *was* surprising, because it de-familiarised the usual power imbalances that journalists just unthinkingly reify.

    I don’t really expect any journalist to follow Helen’s lead, “cis” is too arcane a term for the general public, but it’s really not *that* hard to get things right–if you accept the premise that a trans woman’s gender identity is as legitimate as any other woman’s. Newspaper coverage rarely if ever ime remotely approaches that.


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