On Saturday night at the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco, Janet Mock, noted author, trans advocate and editor, joined GLAAD in calling for a meeting with staff members of The New York Times to discuss transgender issues.
Last month, The New York Times printed an anti-trans and sexist article about Lorena Escalera, a trans woman of color who was killed in a building fire at her Brooklyn home. The article dehumanized Lorena as a woman, making salacious comments that were irrelevant to her death. Some of the article’s introductory caveats described Lorena as “curvaceous,” that she “drew admiring glances” and was "called" Lorena, as if that weren't her name.
GLAAD, along with other advocates including Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Jennifer Finney Boylan and Autumn Sandeen as well as Colorlines.com all spoke out against the dehumanizing coverage of Lorena in the Times article, prompting a community response.
After receiving a call from GLAAD, the Times’ Metro Editor, Carolyn Ryan issued the paltry statement: "We typically try to capture the personal stories of those whose lives are lost in a fire, and we sought to do so in this case. We certainly did not mean any disrespect to the victim or those who knew her. But, in retrospect, we should have shown more care in our choice of words."
GLAAD has since called for a meeting with the Times, as one of the most influential media outlets in the country, to discuss coverage of trans issues. On stage, Janet echoed the community's disapproval of the Times' coverage of Lorena, and called on the media to treat transgender women with dignity.
“Lorena was a trans woman—just like myself. And she was stripped of her dignity. I spoke out alongside many other trans women who saw the article as a slap in the face to girls like us everywhere. GLAAD joined us in taking the Times to task, and the paper responded with a rather weak statement.”
She continued by demanding the media represent trans people with respect and not as “less-than-human creatures to be gawked at.” Then, the conversation was turned to the even greater issue—and that is that violence against trans women of color is on the rise, noting that the shift in attitude needs to happen now. The recent stories of CeCe McDonald’s sentencing and Paige Clay’s murder in Chicago demonstrate this reality.
Mock, who started #girlslikeus, called on the LGBT and allied communities to speak up and report any dehumanizing or anti-LGBT stories in the media.