21 Chicano-Latino L. Rev. 38 (2000)
Confronting the Limits of Gay Hate Crimes Activism: A Radical Critique

handle is hein.journals/chiclat21 and id is 50 raw text is: CONFRONTING THE LIMITS
OF GAYt HATE CRIMES ACTIVISM:
A RADICAL CRITIQUE
JANE SPADE c& CRAIG WILLSEt
Throughout the last decade, hate crimes committed against
gay, lesbian and transgender individuals have come to the fore-
front of gay political organizing efforts. Likewise, especially
within the last year and a half, local and national governments
and the mainstream press have struggled to determine the appro-
priate forms and levels of protection necessary for sexual and
gender minorities. Questioning the emancipatory potential of
hate crimes activism for sexual and gender non-normative peo-
ple, this paper outlines the limits of criminal justice remedies to
problems of gender, race, economic and sexual subordination.
The first section considers some of the positive impacts of
hate crimes activism, focusing on the benefits of legal naming
for disenfranchised constituencies seeking political recognition.
In the next section we outline the political shortcomings and
troubling consequences of hate crimes activism. First, we ex-
amine how hate crimes activism is situated within a mainstream
gay agenda, a term we use to designate the set of projects priori-
t We use the word gay to describe the hate crimes activism for a number of
reasons. First, the primary hate crimes legislation sought for and achieved by
mainstream gay organizations has not specifically included transgender people.
Many gains in hate crimes legislation covering gender variance have been made in
separate campaigns waged by transgender people and their allies, and most states
with hate crimes laws covering sexual orientation do not have protections against
hate crimes motivated by transphobia. Second, we choose the generic term gay
over the terms queer or gay/lesbian/bi because we see, as will be described in
the paper, that this activism does not routinely engage a struggle for liberation for a
broader spectrum of sexual and gender variation implied by the term queer.
Additionally, the narrow activist agenda of which gay hate crimes activism is a part
privileges a gay male perspective at the expense of feminist perspectives and
women's perspectives, and rarely if ever incorporates the experiences and concerns
of bisexuals.
f Jane Spade is a student in the Public Interest Law and Policy Program at
UCLA School of Law. Craig Willse is an independent scholar and works as a case
manager at a transitional living program for formerly homeless gay, lesbian, bisex-
ual, and transgender youth. Both have engaged in grassroots and institutional activ-
ism concerning queer, trans, and sex work issues.

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