Following the murder of Tiffany Edwards in Cincinnati and the problematic media coverage of her story, TakePart spoke to GLAAD about respectful reporting on transgender people, particularly in stories involving transgender victims of violence. In the case of Edwards, her mugshot was featured with a story from a local NBC affiliate in Cincinnati, along with her arrest record, her name at birth, and the delegitimizing passage, "her family says the victim goes by the name Tiffany."
Take Part noted many of the points outlined in GLAAD's Doubly Victimized report created to ensure that journalists report fairly and accurately on transgender victims of violence:
"Whenever possible, refer to people by their chosen names rather than their birth names. Use preferred pronouns—"she" and "her" for people who identify as female, for example—and if you don't know someone's pronoun, ask. Don't ask to show photos of someone before he or she has transitioned. A transgender woman was not necessarily "born a boy," she may have always been female though she was considered male at birth."
When it comes to the inclusion of the mugshots and arrest histories of transgender women of color, as happened in reports about Edwards, TakePart looks to the writing of trans advocate and GLAAD Media Award-nominated blogger Monica Roberts. Roberts recently wrote about "the far too common racist pattern of murdered African-American trans women being further disrespected in death by the media."
GLAAD's own Nick Adams also weighed in, saying that including this information is typically irrelevant, and that, "the obligation is to say why transgender women and transgender women of color might be involved in the criminal justice system." Factors like police profiling, job discrimination, and an unemployment rate quadruple that of the national average facing transgender people of color are factors that rarely make it into these media reports.
Adolfo Flores, a reporter for The Los Angeles Times, told TakePart that journalists should reach out beyond local police and family members, who may not have accurate information on how the victim identified. "You’d be surprised how quickly you can get ahold of a transgender organization," said Flores, who reported respectfully on the death of transgender activist Zoraida Reyes in Anaheim.