Crime

Fury over transgender killing

By Guy Page

The stabbing death Tuesday in Morristown of Zachary Barbeau, 29, of Hinesburg, also known as Fern Feather, has become embroiled in transgender politics and legislative policy.

After police reported that 43-year-old transient Seth Brunell had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, a Facebook page affiliated with the trans community blasted media, political candidates and legislators for the “exterminationist narrative” applied to transgendered people and called for personal and community defense of threatened transgendered individuals.

The statement comes as Vermont progressives and a handful of Democrats are under fire for proposing legislation that would allow children of any age to receive puberty blockers and gender-changing drugs without parental consent. As published in Vermont Daily Chronicle yesterday, these drugs can result in permanent sterilization and infertility. Reps. Selene Colburn (P-Burlington) and Taylor Small (D/P – Winooski), both sponsors of H659, appeared angry and upset when asked to speak to Vermont Daily Chronicle yesterday, and refused to comment. 

Gov. Phil Scott also published a statement proclaiming the state’s support for transgender Vermonters.

From the Vermont State Police yesterday:

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington on Fern Feather, 29, of Hinesburg, who was known to family as Zachary Barbeau. The autopsy determined the cause of death was a stab wound to the chest, and the manner of death was homicide.

The Vermont State Police has arrested a suspect on a charge of second-degree murder arising from the death Tuesday morning of a person in Morristown. 

Seth Brunell, 43, who is transient, was ordered jailed without bail pending arraignment scheduled for Wednesday in the Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court in Hyde Park.

Investigators determined that Brunell met Barbeau several days ago, and the two had been spending time together. The Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department encountered the two in a vehicle at about 8:05 a.m. Tuesday, April 12 in the parking lot of the Lamoille North Supervisory Union. 

Deputies checked on Barbeau and Brunell and waited for them to leave the parking lot. Sometime before 10:15 a.m., Barbeau and Brunell arrived in a vehicle on Duhamel Road near the intersection of Cadys Falls Road. According to the affidavit of probable cause, Brunell told police he was defending himself after Barbeau made a sexual advance and attacked him. Investigators observed no injuries or evidence of a struggle or an assault on Brunell.

From the public People’s Pride Burlington Facebook page:

“Community, it is with grief, fear, and rage that we have to bring you news of the transphobic murder of a transfeminine Vermont resident.

“Fern Feather, universally adored by everyone who knew her, was taken from us Tuesday morning by a transphobic man who had recently wormed his way into her life and gained her trust.

“Local news outlets have begun coverage, predictably deadnaming and misgendering her, as well as universally avoiding the phrase “Hate Crime”. We urge you to submit corrections wherever relevant, especially if you’re an ally. Links to offending articles will be posted in the comments of this post (and we urge you to add any that you find).

“Her suspected killer, Seth Brunell, has attempted to exploit the age-old transmisogynistic spectre of sexual aggressiveness to wriggle out of taking responsibility for his brutal actions. The evidence does not support his claims, but it doesn’t have to: His claims fit the narrative creeping across our state, our nation, and our world, and as such will be a suitable excuse in the eyes of many.

“In a local and national political climate characterized by the sexual demonization of the LGBT+ population, and especially of the transgender population, this justification will become increasingly common. Even here in Burlington, the supposed progressive capital of Vermont, we have perennial political candidates framing us as a threat to children and (cis) women, calling legislators “groomers” for defending the rights of transgender youths. We have men roaming the streets, armed and distributing vile propaganda. How long until one of them, or one of their associates, crosses the line between rhetorical and physical violence? How long will they be allowed to escalate before they are stopped?

“We are, as a population, under attack. We need in-the-moment personal defense, we need proactive community defense, and we need help combatting the exterminationist narrative being pushed against us. If you consider yourself an ally, an accomplice, or otherwise in community with us? It’s time to bring your A-game.”

This statement was received from Gov. Phil Scott, yesterday:

“Across the country, we have seen disturbing hostility towards the transgender community. Unfortunately, recent events show we are not immune to this in Vermont, and we must commit to continuing our work to make Vermont a more inclusive and welcoming place. Exploiting fear and targeting divisive rhetoric at people who are just trying to be who they are is hateful and can lead to violence.

“I ask Vermonters to do their part to ensure everyone feels safe in our state and to engage in these conversations from a place of empathy and understanding. Legitimate policy debates can and should be had and should be fact-based and respectful. Sadly, data shows transgender people are more likely to be victims of violence and die by suicide so it’s important to realize ‘how’ we discuss these issues matters.

“To Vermonters in the LGBTQA+ community, I want you to know we stand with you and support you but know we have more work to do.”

H659 is in the House Committee on Health Care. It did not meet the crossover deadline to be eligible for passage in this biennium. However, House leaders could employ several parliamentary procedures to move the bill, if they choose.

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26 replies »

  1. Tragic and terribly sad on so many levels. Right on cue politicians are taking full advantage of this loss of life to advance their agendas and further divide us all.

  2. Governor Panderer jumping to the podium once again to project onto Vermonters to behave and bow down to the thought police. I’m sure the truth to this story is not as sensational or provocative. Run of the mill crime is not as juicy until adding the race or gender questioning angle. The bandwagon is loaded and demanding action! Pervmont is in free fall.

  3. Wow. We don’t even know what happened at the scene of the crime the PC mob grabs this and runs.

    Using this to push ‘Transgender Youths’ is sick.

    Our society is beyond mentally ill.

  4. The mentally ill murdering the mentally ill; not surprising. I would say that the democRATS closing down all those mental health hospitals decades ago was not a good idea. However? It WAS in the democRATS best interest.

  5. In the “old days”, sexual assault was typically man on woman. Legal tradition and precedent has generally accepted that deadly force to prevent an imminent sexual assault is justified as self-defense. The transgender community has done an outstanding job of convincing society that gender is simply a social construct and that it can be fluid. That pretty much throws out the legal traditions of gender segregated public bathrooms, changing facilities and competitive sports. Makes sense then that gender should no longer dictate or suggest who is the assumed aggressor in a legal case of sexual assault. In this case, we have a “person” who claims they were being sexually assaulted by another “person” and they responded using lethal self-defense. There were 2 witnesses to the incident and one is deceased. Seems like the genders (or gender expressions) of those involved should be COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT and to prove murder, prosecutors must have to establish that there was no actual imminent sexual assault taking place and hence no justification for lethal self-defense. What is in question here and in similar cases is whether the deadly response was to an innocent “sexual advance” or if it indeed could be regarded as an “assault”. Another old-timey legal tradition is that any victim of a sexual assault “deserves to be believed”. My sympathies to the members of the transgender community who feel a societal wrong is being perpetrated in how this is portrayed in the media, public opinion and courts, but you can’t have it both ways.
    Disclaimer: I received my legal education the same way most Americans did…by watching Perry Mason re-runs.

  6. “Investigators determined that Brunell met Barbeau several days ago, and the two had been spending time together.” – sounds more like domestic violence than hate.

      • I’m in England right now – asked about it. Got laughed at. Cite your sources please.

      • So explain to me why someone needs to carry a knife on a street in a built up area? They legislate and police knives as they are the replacement for guns – that are already banned. Nobody comes into your house and knocks’ a knife out of your hand while buttering toast.

      • Maybe I need to cut something?

        It’s not up for anyone else to decide what I carry to protect myself or use for utility.

        You should look into the number of break-ins that happen in London, you might be surprised that some of them were probably buttering their toast.

        If you really truly feel this way maybe you should stay in the UK because we don’t need any more people telling us what we can and can’t do in Vermont.

  7. What exactly did Brunell do wrong? A perverted male attacked him and tried to rape him so Brunell defended himself. It was clearly self defense.

    • “no injuries or evidence of a struggle or an assault on Brunell” – so maybe not…..

  8. Murder is murder. There is no excuse for it. What frightens me most, and I suspect that is the intent, are the quotes from the Pride Burlington Facebook group. No matter the motive if an LBGTQ+ person is harmed then by default it was hate, and as a group the hate needs to be stirred in the group and brought to bear. Don’t wait for a trial. Don’t wait for evidence. Assume the worst intent and incite violence.
    None of us should have any tolerance for murder regardless of the victim.

    • I believe what they’re chapped about is the “tired old cliché of claiming they were sexually threatened”, and that this proves he’s deeply transphobic or something. I think (ahem) “spending time together” for several days effectively throws that theory out of the window. All that’s left is making political hay while the sun of tragedy is shining… it’s a terrible metaphor for the circumstance.

      • A killing done as an act of “self defense” is considered a justifiable homicide. Murder is a criminal homicide, done with malice. A jury may have to decide if this was indeed self defense or murder. I think the jury of public opinion in this age of wokeness will already have found him guilty of murder, aggravated as a hate crime. ( these legal opinions are from a graduate of the Perry Mason re-run law school).

  9. Maybe Seth had just discovered that upon her advances, Fern Feather had a tallywacker?

    • But the presense of such doesn’t mean Fern wasn’t really an XX chromosome female!!!!

      Oh wait…..yes it does. Never mind.

  10. In an act of over-the-top virtue signaling, the Governor has had his Obama-like “acted stupidly” moment in chastising the media and the public about an alleged crime in which the facts are barely in. No doubt the Vermont news media and elected officials will soon be required to attend webinars to learn how to properly handle cases “like this”. We must all learn about the dangers of “deadnaming” a person. There will be a quiz so pay attention. Media people will fall all over themselves to grovel and apologize for their “inaccuracies” and faux-pas in reporting on transgender issues and after a time of deep reflection, we can go back to our rainbows and unicorns happy world.

  11. If the man is exonerated, he should sue. However, this is a frightening occurrence for all of us. Now it is being exploited to urge the poisoning of children.
    Also: Infertility, etc., are only a fraction of the damage done to children by giving them ANY drugs which interfere with ANY of the body’s processes of maturation.

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