Story to Watch: Kansas City Transgender Woman Murdered Christmas Eve

Dee Dee Pearson, a transgender woman living in Kansas City, Missouri, was murdered this holiday weekend. The transgender community in Kansas City is mourning this tragic loss, and friends and neighbors have already begun leaving tokens of love and support outside of Dee Dee’s home where she was shot Saturday night.

GLAAD has reached out to several local stations and newspapers regarding their coverage of Dee Dee’s murder. We are asking them to be respectful of Dee Dee’s name and identity as a transgender woman while covering her murder. This includes referring to her by the proper pronouns, “she” and “her.”  Crime stories involving transgender people are too often sensationalized and can be disrespectful or dehumanizing to the individual involved, as well as the greater transgender community.

Covering crime stories about transgender people can be challenging, but it is extremely important that it be done well.  Because transgender people do not always have access to the resources to change their names through the courts, legal documents and police reports will not always reflect a person’s chosen name or pronouns.  As this is often the case in the transgender community, the AP and New York Times style books provide guidelines for journalists reporting on tragedies like Dee Dee’s by stating that journalists should always use the pronoun and names with which a transgender person identifies, and when a journalist is unable to ask the individual involved to always defer to the pronouns consistent with how the person lives publicly.

GLAAD asks our constituents to help monitor coverage of this story, which has the potential for further problematic reporting by writers who are not familiar with guidelines or terminology regarding the transgender community. Please notify us of any inaccurate or irresponsible coverage and report it by filling out an incident report. GLAAD will continue to work with the local news outlets to improve their coverage and give voice to a grieving community that is honoring the life of Dee Dee Pearson.