Media continues disrespectful reporting as transgender women of color are murdered

Last week, GLAAD reached out to several news outlets in Norfolk, Virginia, about their inaccurate and offensive coverage of Lamia Beard, a Black transgender woman who was killed in a shooting. Lamia, who was 30-years-old, was found by police on January 17 injured by a gunshot wound. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she later died. Monica Roberts at TransGriot noted the many problems with local media coverage of Lamia's murder.

Media outlets in Norfolk misgendered Lamia, using the wrong name and pronouns to refer to her. After GLAAD's outreach, at least one outlet, the Virginian-Pilot, agreed to correct pronouns in the story, but also included superfluous speculation from anonymous strangers about alleged sex workers frequenting the area where Lamia was killed, which included an offensive description of transgender women. The Pilot included information about Lamia's criminal record, despite its irrelevance to the story. Some local outlets, like WVEC, listened to GLAAD and respectfully updated their coverage of Lamia.

GLAAD has created a guide specifically for journalists reporting on stories where transgender people are victims of crime, because they so frequently get it wrong. The guide goes beyond explaining the importance using the correct name and pronouns to refer to a transgender person – it also discusses what journalists should avoid when reporting about transgender people, how to deal with conflicting information about a victim's gender identity, and how to provide respectful, factual context around violence against transgender people.

Lamia is one of at least four LGBT people of color who have been reported killed in the U.S. in 2015. Ty Underwood, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in North Tyler, Texas. Ty's friends say she was targeted because of her gender identity, and police are still investigating. In Louisville, Kentucky, a 20-year-old LGBT person of color, whose last name is Edwards, was found suffering from a gunshot wound before being rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead. There continues to be a lack of information about the victim's gender identity. Jesse Hernandez, a 17-year-old queer Latin@ person, was shot to death by Denver police while unarmed.