Reporting Accurately on Los Angeles Attack: Victim Tells LAPD Preferred Name and Pronouns

Last Thursday evening, a 22-year-old person of color was brutally attacked in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. While previous information regarding the victim's gender identity was unclear, the Los Angeles Police Department has now clarified that the victim's name is Vivian and she uses female pronouns. At this point, the victim's preferred last name has not been released.

In a story for the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, the victim's sisters suggested that their sibling was dressed in women's clothes at the time of the attack. The reporter told viewers that the sisters described their sibling as "gay and transgender" and they used a male name to refer to her. Moving forward, media outlets should refer to Vivian with female pronouns and the name she gave to the LAPD.

Vivian's sisters also referred to the attack as a "hate crime" but the LAPD's investigation has yet to confirm a motive for the crime. If it is confirmed to be a hate crime, it should be referred to as an anti-transgender hate crime, not an anti-gay hate crime.

Yesterday the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its annual Hate Violence Report. Findings for the 2012 calendar year show that in 53% of anti-LGBTQ homicides, the victims were transgender women. Additionally 73% of all anti-LGBTQ homicide victims were people of color. Just this past April, three transgender women of color were murdered.

These crimes often go unreported in the media and when media outlets do cover the stories, the reports are often dehumanizing and disrespectful. Media outlets covering Vivian's story and other attacks on transgender people are encouraged to refer to GLAAD's reference guide on how to cover crimes with transgender victims in order to ensure reports are accurate.