Nastaran Kolestani

July 13, 2009

KMVT_Kolestani4According to reports in The Spokesman (link here), KMVT11 (link here) and The Olympian (link here), the trial of Nastaran Kolestani has now reached its sad but very predictable conclusion.

As ever, I’ve edited the quotes below to respect Ms Kolestani’s self-identification – my amendments are in [square brackets].

[Nastaran] Kolestani, 42, must serve at least 18 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.

Kolestani […] was sentenced Friday in 5th District Court.

She pleaded guilty in June to first-degree murder in the August 2008 killing of 29-year-old Ehsan Velayati Kababian, also an Iranian refugee.


Shemshat Muhammedberdiyena, a friend of Kolestani and Kababian, told the newspaper that Kababian’s plans to leave to be with a woman in Iran sent Kolestani into a murderous rage.

(Via The Olympian)

That last quote gives a revealing insight into the law’s attitudes. If Ms Kolestani was truly in “a murderous rage” when she shot Ehsan Kababian, it’s a bit of a surprise that her defense team didn’t try the so-called ‘crime of passion’ argument. It could have been a test case to see if a mirror image of the trans panic defense might perhaps be acceptable for trans people to use when they’ve been ‘deceived’ by cis people. Who knows, a whole new ‘cis panic’ defense might have come into being.

Anyway. Flippancy aside – and my paragraph above was flippant – my main concern about the outcome of this case was in connection with the human rights abuses to which Ms Kolestani has been subjected.

The abuses meted out to [Nastaran] Kolestani in particular seemed like a string of human rights abuses: police officers alleged that Ms Kolestani was guilty of first-degree murder as well as denied her access to prescribed hormone therapies. They even refused to supply her with a bra – given that Ms Kolestani has been undergoing hormone therapy for over five years, this seems like an especially vindictive and small-minded punishment by the prison authorities, who were well aware of her gender identity.

(Via Bird of Paradox)

It’s unclear from any of the three news reports I linked whether Ms Kolestani is still being refused her prescribed medications and gender-appropriate clothing, although according to KMVT11:

Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs says that Kolestani will not be able to be housed with either the general male or female inmate population.

Which suggests solitary confinement – which in turn smacks of victim-blaming. I can just hear the prison officials: “Oh we wouldn’t have to do this if you weren’t trans”. Cis people piss me right off sometimes.

I send good wishes to Nastaran – she confessed to the crime and now must do the time, I accept that – I only hope that she is treated with at least a basic humanity and dignity over the course of the next 18 years, and that she can find the inner strength to get through this.


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