Transgender Woman Murdered in Houston; Some Media Coverage Misses the Mark

GLAAD joined Pride Houston on Monday in an effort to correct problematic news coverage about the tragic murder of Myra Chanel Ical, a transgender woman whose half-naked body was found in the Montrose area of Houston on Jan. 18.

Authorities have no suspects in the case.

The Houston Police Department issued a Press Release last Wednesday which incorrectly identified Ms. Ical by the male pronoun.

Following the BPD’s lead, The Houston Chronicle published an article on Jan. 20 which erroneously calls Ms. Ical “a man” and also uses the male pronoun. Both the BPD and The Houston Chronicle also list Ical’s birth name as primary identification.

Both The Associated Press and The New York Times’s style guidelines prohibit reporters from using a pronoun that an individual does not prefer.

From The Associated Press:

“Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

“If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

From The New York Times:

“Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she her hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.”

Houston’s local Fox affiliate, KRIV-Fox 26, also failed to accurately report the murder, again incorrectly calling Ms. Ican “a man” and listing her birth name, rather than her lived name.

It should be noted, meanwhile, that Houston’s local CBS affiliate, KHOU-11, fairly and accurately reported on the murder and even reached out to the Transgender Foundation of America for its story:

After being alerted to the problematic coverage, GLAAD contacted Pride Houston to offer our assistance in the matter.

(To read Pride Houston President Meghan Stabler’s analysis of local media coverage, click here)

GLAAD has since reached out to both The Houston Chronicle and Fox-26 Houston and requested that their stories be changed to reflect accurate terminology.

A candlelight vigil for Myra Chanel Ical will be held tonight, January 25, 2010, at 9 P.M. at the site where Myra’s body was discovered. Please join over 160 confirmed attendees to remember Myra’s life and raise awareness about anti-transgender violence.

For more information about tonight’s vigil click here, or visit the Memorial for Myra Ical Facebook page.

Anyone who might know anything about this crime or who might have witnessed it is urged to call Crime Stoppers. Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-8477 tips hotline or submitted online at www.crimestoppers.org that leads to the identification, arrest and/or charging of the any of the suspects in this case.

GLAAD will continue to insist that media fairly and accurately report on the murder of Myra Ical. Updates will be made available on GLAADblog.org

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UPDATE: KRIV- Fox 26 Houston Drastically Improves Coverage after GLAAD Outreach

Last night, approximately 200 advocates and allies gathered on the 4300 block of Garrott in Houston to remember Myra Chanel Ical.

Fox 26 Houston was on the scene and made notable improvements in its reporting after GLAAD and Pride Houston reached out to the network.

Fox 26 originally identified Myra as a man and used her birth name instead of her lived name.

In covering the vigil, however, Fox 26 corrected its mistakes, used correct pronouns and identified Myra by her lived name.

GLAAD applauds KRIV-Fox 26 Houston adhering to journalistic standards of fairness and staying in-line with contemporary usage. We will continue to act as a resource for Fox 26 in its future LGBT reporting.