The body of a transgender woman named Yasmin was found burned behind a garbage container in an ally in Fort Meyers, Florida. Early reports about Yasmin called her a "man in a dress" and used her birth name and inaccurate pronouns several times.
As local media rush to tell this developing story, GLAAD would like to remind outlets how to respectfully report on transgender victims of violence. The report "Doubly Victimized" was written to ensure that coverage of transgender victims of violence doesn't descent into salacious stories that disrespects the victim.
GLAAD has already reached out to local media outlets with the "Doubly Victimized" report, as well as with the latest information about violence against LGBTQ and HIV+ people, which was compiled by the Anti-Violence Project. Over 90% of LGBTQ homicide victims were either transgender or people of color or both.
Reporters will do well to follow the following guidelines, taken from the "Doubly Victimized" report:
Gender and Pronouns
The only important piece of information in identifying a victim's gender is how they currently identify or, if they were killed, how they identified at the time of the incident. Always use the gender and pronoun that corresponds with the way the victim identifies/identified. If how the person identified is not known, use the pronoun consistent with how the individual lived publicly.
Incorrect: A man was found on Friday morning in his Brooklyn neighborhood.
Correct: A transgender woman was found on Friday morning in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
This holds true even if you have only been given the victim's birth name, and even if the only name you have for the victim does not match their self-identified gender. (also see NAMES section below)
Incorrect: The victim, John Smith, was found on Friday morning in his Brooklyn neighborhood.
Correct: The victim, who was identified by police as John Smith, was found on Friday morning in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
If you get conflicting Information
Many transgender people are only able to live as their authentic gender some of the time. Some have only disclosed the fact that they are transgender to certain people. Often a victim's co-workers, neighbors, or even friends and family won't know that the person was transgender. In these cases, you should still default to the way a victim identified at the time of the incident.
If a source uses incorrect names or pronouns
Often, police or witnesses will use the wrong name or gender for the victim. When possible, paraphrase rather than quote directly, or quote elements of the statement that do not include this incorrect information. If this is not possible, leave the quote as-is but make sure that you, as the journalist, use the correct information.
Incorrect: "It looks like Smith was coming out of a local bar when he was attacked," said Officer Jones.
Correct: Officer Jones said it appeared as though Smith was coming out of a local bar when she was attacked.
Correct: According to Officer Jones, "It looks like Smith was coming out of a local bar" at the time she was attacked.
Things to avoid
Do not use language that implies the victim's identity was not "real," or that it was a costume, a disguise, or a false identity.
Incorrect: The victim, John Smith, was dressed like a woman at the time of the attack.
Correct: The victim, identified by police as John Smith, was a transgender woman
If you see instances of reporting that dehumanizes or degrates transgender victims of violence, report it to GLAAD.