After Genderqueer Teen Set On Fire For Wearing A Skirt, Classmates Dress In Solidarity

sasha-skirt-thumbA horrific attack on a gender noncomforming teen is bringing attention to people who identify themselves as “agender.”

When 18 year old Luke “Sasha” Fleischman was lit on fire on an Oakland city bus in early November, it was due in large part to the admitted “homophobia” of his attacker, 16 year old Richard Thomas.

Sasha is a gender noncomformist and was wearing a skirt at the time, which sent their attacker into a rage and sent Fleischman to the hospital where they stayed for weeks getting treated for second and third degree burns. Thomas has since been arrested and charged as an adult with a hate crime, assault and mayhem.

The attack was met by an outpouring of support from other students at Maybeck High School in Berkeley, CA. Fellow students, both male and female, wore skirts a few weeks later as a show of solidarity for Fleischman, who identifies as “agender” or “genderqueer.”

The “agender” movement is very closely aligned with the new push towards using Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs) in LGBT-oriented safe spaces, as well as more progressive college campuses.

Though the movement seems new and difficult to grasp, some who have been aware of it for years are pleased with the positive response and the move towards understanding the issues that the attack has raised.

“I’ve been doing this work for years, and there has been added public awareness, but it’s still a new issue for most people,” says San Francisco LGBT Community Center Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe. “Most people don’t know someone who is gender neutral, or don’t know someone who is transgender.”

Sasha has since returned to school, and is being driven back and forth by their mother for now.

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  • Kamuriie

    “Most people don’t know someone who is gender neutral, or don’t know someone who is transgender.”

    DUH! How many people do you think identify as “gender neutral” (which isn’t a thing along the lines of “OOH! A new thing to classify people as! A new box for idiots to be able to check!”)

    Gender, in terms of behavior/identity and not sexual classification, only means as much as anyone thinks it does–all it does is describe typical behaviors, and as such, it’s fluid. Pink used to be considered masculine, now it’s feminine. In other words, arbitrary. That doesn’t mean that all gender behavior is necessarily arbitrary–higher aggression, for example, is indicative of the male sex in countless species, including humans.

    In any case, if this Luke person doesn’t “conform to the arbitrary notions of masculinity,” WHO CARES? He’s just some guy who got attacked–and his attacker should face the full force of the law.

    But “genderqueer” isn’t some special thing to be celebrated as a new classification of person, nor is it a new box we should all have to see when asked for your SEX, or your GENDER (when the term gender is used colloquially to mean SEX).

    Stop pushing this crap, Queerty.

  • Thedrdonna

    @Kamuriie: So angry! And seriously, nobody has ever had a productive conversation with someone who is espousing a variant of the old “why do we have to have labels, why can’t we all just be hyoomans!” argument.

  • alterego1980

    I wonder if there is a better pronoun to use besides they or their. Maybe the agender group prefers that, i don’t know. But it seems to me like the writer is addressing split personalities when referring to someone as they. I’m guessing the writer is trying to be respectful by not using him or her, and I get that. But it just seems cold and distant, maybe only one tep up from “it”

  • Thedrdonna

    @alterego1980: I believe Sasha has asked people to used those pronouns when referring to them.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    @alterego1980: The few genderqueer people I know all prefer the they/them pronouns.

    At first I had similar feelings about how impersonal it sounded, but a couple years later “they” now comes out in conversation as naturally as “he” or “she” does.

  • hex0

    Why is this pronoun shit being pushed on the gay and lesbian community? The only people who identify and “genderqueer” and “agender” are annoying hipsters, I have nothing against actual transgenders but this is just asinine.

  • tada-no

    I have a hard time keeping up with new sexual revolution labels, terminology, and P.C. etiquette that keeps evolving every year. But, I’ll say anyone who touches a queer deserves to get their face pummeled. There is no room for violence because you don’t like how someone looks.

    P.S. Do “theys” “its” and PGPs have sexual orientations?

  • zrocqs

    @hex0: So you’re easily confused by “pronoun shit” and can’t keep up with “annoying hipsters”….

    Maybe just stay home?

  • scoobydube

    I wonder if MISTER Richard Thomas ever heard of SCOTTISH men wearing “KILTS”???? Is there a “DIFFERENCE”?? One man’s “skirt” is another man’s KILT. Stupid is as stupid does ….

  • Jim Teutsch

    I find it incredibly disturbing that some in this community would be anything but supportive. Sasha and other genderqueer individuals should have our commitment as any extraordinarily disenfranchised member of the LGBTQA community does in this world. Religious and right wing extremists seek to discriminate, and far worse (as in this case) harm those who don’t conform to their fanaticism. Please consider how you feel when haters lie, mock, discriminate or worse against you and yours and stand in support! Peace and love, Jim

  • Cam

    So basically the author of this post used a horrific attack on a teen, and then completely jumped off that very real topic to go on about the agender movement that they are apparently very into.

    Here is a thought. Rather than minimize this horrible attack and the wonderful support the student received, write an actual article about that and then write a separate one on whatever issue you are into.

    What happened to this teen was beyond horrible and deserved more than a line or two.

  • DShucking

    Oakland is a shithole. Anyway, I sure hope the mongrel who did this was read his rights before he said he did it because he was homophobic. Hate crime. Plain and simple.

  • DShucking

    @Cam: This is not an article about the attack. This is an article about why he was attacked. You act like this is the only article anyone has ever written about it.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Kamuriie: You need to get a grip on the new life order or you ain’t gonna fit in, and you’ll most likely be one of the next persons sitting in jail awaiting trial! As a retired teacher and hospital Chaplain, I met a number of genderqueer and agender persons and have enjoyed ministering to them and getting to know them! What happened to this young lady was horrific and I can’t wait for Richard Thomas to meet “Bubba” in prison. Ohhh, to be a fly on the wall when they meet!

  • Kamuriie

    @Dakotahgeo: Wow. So you’re a Chaplain? I wonder what Jesus would say about you wishing for a criminal to “meet Bubba in prison.”

    Hint: He’d condemn you harshly. You should be rooting for the recovery of the victim, and the salvation of the attacker, to see the light.

    Oh, what a surprise, that yet another believer in a nonsensical religion, doesn’t actually believe in his own religion. Jackass.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Kamuriie: And WHO the hell are you to question anyone? I am a retired minister and they didn’t call me the ‘Renegade Minister’ for nothin’. I was a hospital/hospice/prison Chaplain and people like you are a dime a dozen without the discount! Go back in your cave and at least ATTEMPT to get an education! Amateur!

  • DShucking

    @Dakotahgeo: I have to say, it is kind of sad to hear a former minister wish for someone to get raped.

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