California school students & faculty support genderqueer student set on fire & who continues to be misgendered in the press

[TW: Anti trans violence + misgendering by press]

Sasha Fleischman, a genderqueer senior at Colorado’s Maybeck High School, fell asleep in the rear of a bus heading for East Oakland. Sasha’s skirt was set on fire by a 16 year old named Richard Thomas, resulting in 3rd-degree burns. Sasha was hospitalized and must have skin grafts. Sasha will remain hospitalized for several weeks, but should be home for Thanksgiving. “Sasha is getting good care, and has a good prognosis for recovery,” Trevor Cralle, admissions director at Sasha’s school wrote in an email to students.

Maybeck High School staff and students are stand in solidarity with Sasha:

While most news reports have been supportive, they’ve ignored  Sasha’s prefered pronouns, they/them and are instead misgendering them.  On November 6, Laurie Kahn, operations manager for Sasha’s school informed the press that Sasha prefered the gender-neutral pronouns they/them. He went on to clarify, “Sasha worked out the gender issues on their own and we try to respect the wish to be referred to as ‘they.’”

Sasha’s school: “Skirts for Sasha”

Confusion about pronoun use occurred when Sasha’s mom, in a moment of stress, fear and worry used the pronoun “he” when initially talking with the Oakland Tribune the same day Sasha was attacked. Around the same time, Sasha’s cousin used male pronouns in an online fundraiser. Since then, practically all press has disregarded Sasha’s wishes and are instead referring to them as a boy/man using pronouns he/him:

HuffPo's editor's note above story they ran 11/6/13
HuffPo’s editor’s note above story they ran November 6th.

To be clear, Sasha said that they prefer gender neutral pronouns:

Hello, I am Sasha Fleischman. I am interested in linguistics, conlanging, and politics. I’m also genderqueer. My preferred pronouns are the singular they (they/them/their/theirs). – Google+

Sasha’s family is attempting to set the record straight, even when they are struggling with Sasha’s pronouns:

Sasha is agendered, he, which means that he, his preferred pronouns are they, them, their. They do not identify with either male or female. They don’t want people to make assumptions based on ‘he’s male’ or what he’s wearing. It’s like, he want’s there to be a blur. – Debbie Fleischman, November 9

Sasha Fleischman’s attacker is to be charged as an adult. It is reported that he said that he set Sasha on fire because he is homophobic and is now facing a hate crime charge.



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Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.