Jazmina Saavedra, a republican candidate for congress, is under fire in the press for harassing a transgender woman, and live streaming it on on her campaign’s Facebook page.
Saavedra, who is running to represent the 44th district, was in a Los Angeles Denny’s on Tuesday morning when she overheard from a waitress that there was a “man in the lady’s restroom”. She proceeded to turn on her Facebook live stream, march into the restroom, phone attached to a selfie stick, and confront the woman through the bathroom stall. What proceeded was a screaming match between the two, with Saavedra shouting that “[she was] invading the privacy of women trying to use the restroom”, and that “[she] violated [Saavedra’s] right” by being there. The woman in the stall, who hasn’t been named, is muffled in comparison to Saavedra’s shouting, but can be heard a few times asking Saavedra to stop, and that she should “do her homework before she speaks”. Saavedra also refused to leave the stall until the woman came out, and when she did, shoved the camera in her face and chased her out of the restaurant. The whole video, which will be inserted here, is difficult to watch, especially in the last few minutes, when Saavedra finally sits back down at her table and begins laughing about the whole ordeal.
In response to the slew of conservatives and religious leaders saying that transgender folks that use the restroom they identify with are antagonizing predators, the National Center for Transgender Equality released a landmark survey. Their findings included the statistic that nearly sixty percent of transgender people avoid using public restrooms out of fear of harassment. For those of you that are more into seeing the numbers, this shows the fear within the transgender community, and negates the ideas put forth by people like Saavedra that transgender folks are looking to invade anyone’s privacy. If anything, they’re trying to avoid it out of fear of their lives.
This isn’t the first time Facebook live streams acted as a network for hate crimes–in January 2017, four people were charged with kidnapping and battery after torturing a Chicago man at a Trump protest. In December 2017, a nineteen-year old woman was charged with aggravated battery and intimidation after kidnapping and torturing a disabled and live streaming it on the social networking site. (the charges have since been dropped, and the woman was sentenced to a four year social media ban and two hundred hours of community service)
Many have begun to see a trend in Facebook’s lack of censorship and delayed response to hateful, inflammatory material being shared through its platform. Facebook claims that it removes over sixty thousand posts a day that include harmful material, and after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to make removing hate speech and violent media a priority. However, Facebook pages promoting civil and women’s rights continue to be removed, while white supremacist groups that post demeaning material about minorities and the LGBT community maintain verification and donation buttons.
Although not as gruesome as those listed above, Saavedra’s post is just another example of how the accessibility of a platform and voice can turn dangerous. The idea of having an audience on standby can very easily send a social media user on power trip, and make them think that their opinions are waiting to be received.
In a follow-up interview, Saavedra claimed that she didn’t regret what she did, and that her reasoning behind the interaction was to protect her won rights. One of the most disturbing things about the whole ordeal is how horribly misinformed the potential congresswoman is. In the state of California, people have the right to use the bathroom that best aligns with the gender they identify with. Although Saavedra claimed she was “protecting her right”, there is no right to speak of that allows her to harass a law abiding citizen through the bathroom stall.
If that isn’t a motif for 2018 America, I don’t know what is.