A group of local trans advocates are speaking out against the Los Angeles Times for an article about Cassidy Vickers, a transgender woman who was shot and killed in November 2011, titled "Slaying casts light on Hollywood's transgender prostitutes."
On Friday, members of Gender Justice LA delivered a petition, started by community activist Hannah Howard, to the Los Angeles Times offices, asking the paper to use more sensitivity and care when it comes to covering transgender people and issues.
"The use of male pronouns, birth names, and terms like 'men with women's breasts and clothes' to refer to transgender women brings up painful memories for many of us in the transgender community," the petition states. "Throughout our lives, people refuse to acknowledge our gender identities, use our birth names and birth genders to refer to us against our will, and respond with varying degrees of harassment and violence when we protest."
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times agreed to meet with GLAAD and members of the city's transgender community to discuss the issues raised since the publication of the story in question.
Violence against the trans community goes far beyond the media. A 2011 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that transgender people faced twice the rates of unemployment and four times the rate of homeless compared to the general population, with 47% saying coming out as transgender cost them a job or promotion. In schools, 78% transgender and gender-nonconforming kids reported being harassed, with 35% also reported having been physically assaulted. 57% of respondents reported significant family rejection, and a staggering 41% said they had at once point attempted suicide. The national average is 1.6%.
"Given the tragedy of Vickers' story, Vickers deserve more than this extremely sloppy account of their life," the petition states. "Moreover, transgender sex workers in general deserve a more dignified telling of their story that doesn't refer to them constantly with degrading terms like 'prostitutes,' and 'street walkers.'"
As of 2012, it is estimated that 14,428 transgender people are living in Los Angeles County, according to The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The petition has collected more than 300 signatures. For more information, you may view the petition here.