Sunday morning in Pittsburgh. Candidate for Allegheny County District attorney Turahn Jenkins gaslights trans women of color in particular for the ‘social media reports of my faith equating to a bias or phobia.’ This is his response to reports out of the meeting he held with LGBTQ folks on Friday.
The Christian faith community he chose, in which he is active, where he sends his children for their religious education, to which he tithes – that community IS vehemently anti-LGBTQ and, more specifically, anti-trans. Google “The Bible Chapel” and Pittsburgh for evidence.
It is not speech or rhetoric. These are fundamental values of the faith community he has chosen to join. If he cannot clearly articulate how he reconciles his belief in the humanity of LGBTQ people within that framework, that is not tenable as a defense.
Also of note is that whomever wrote this used the term LGBTQIA+ AND the phrase my fellow man. That’s a very jarring collision of world views and rather contradictory. Who wrote this statement? It wasn’t Jenkins even though he is 100% responsible for every word, every idea whether explicit or implicit, tied to it.
LGBTQ people, especially those who attended the meeting, have been bravely reporting out while a deafening silence fills the space from other cis het progressives supporting Jenkins quite loudly before Friday.
Gaslighting trans women for speaking out about the realities of a cisgender heterosexual focused campaign for political office is dangerous and cannot be tolerated by any of us. If you associate or support this campaign, you are hurting trans women, especially Black trans women. You are hurting Black LGBTQ youth and other LGBTQ youth of color. You are hurting every LGBTQ person in this region.
And while that may be par for course for Pittsburgh politics, it is not acceptable for any progressive or Democrat. Period.
I expect Daniel Ezra Moraff and Jake Pawlak to step up and speak out. Again and again, if necessary. I expect social justice leaders to resist and pushback as firmly as they spoke for this man’s candidacy. Nothing less is acceptable. I lay that out in more detail here.
His campaign is gaslighting trans women. Is that what you are willing to accept to eject Zappala?
Or this is just another Sunday morning in Pittsburgh?
This is the text of his statement:
I have spent my entire legal career as a Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Social Worker, Trial Supervisor and Adjunct Law Professor seeking and teaching justice and equality for everyone in the criminal justice system.
My campaign for District Attorney is premised on TREATING PEOPLE LIKE PEOPLE. It both frustrates and saddens me to see the injustice within our system, especially as it pertains to some of our most vulnerable citizenry, including the members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
One of the catalyst for my campaign was the vision of having a criminal justice system that reflects the needs of the entire community of Allegheny County, an office that speaks for all people and an office the restores the hope and faith of its citizens back into the criminal justice system. An office that would treat everyone fairly, including victims, law enforcement and those accused of crimes is very attainable, however we have much work to do, myself included.
During my many years as a trial attorney for the government and the defense, neither my integrity nor my fairness were ever questioned by colleagues, clients, witnesses, victims, officers or any other court staff. However, that same long held reputation for fairness is now being questioned.
Despite social media reports of my faith equating to a bias or phobia, I categorically reject this conclusion. I further reject any speech or rhetoric from any source, including my church, that seeks to teach hate or prejudice based on race, sex, color, age, orientation or any other classification. I clearly hurt and offended members of the LGBTQIA+ community, which was never my intent. I never want to be the source of someone’s pain or hurt, my aim in life is to be the exact opposite.
As your District Attorney, I will be inclusive and create an advisory board from a cross section of the citizenry from Allegheny County to eradicate implicit bias in the criminal justice system. Victims will be heard, offenders will be prosecuted fairly and justice will be dispensed even handedly.
I have lived my life dispensing love and compassion to my fellow man, even when the same wasn’t always reciprocated. I will take the necessary steps of meeting with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to learn more their important issues so I can continue to be the champion for all people.
I have much to learn throughout this process but I welcome the opportunity to hear the concerns of community leaders with a vested interest in electing a District Attorney with the experience, temperament and willingness to address mass incarceration during this Opioid epidemic, eliminate cash bail and seeking equal accountability under the law for all citizens of Allegheny County.