GLAAD calls for increased and accurate media coverage of transgender murders

This page is updated regularly as new deaths are reported. Please see resources below on how to write stories about transgender people who have been victimized by crime, and additional resources for writing about the violence that affects transgender people, especially transgender women of color.

Below are the transgender people lost in 2018 that we know of. Click on their names for more information about their lives and their death:

  • Celine Walker was killed on February 4 in Jacksonville, Flordia, but due to misgendering by police and the media, she was not identified as a transgender woman until February 9. She was 36 years old.
  • Tonya Harvey, also known as Kita, was killed on February 6 in Buffalo, New York. She was 35 years old. 
  • Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien was killed on January 5 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She was 42 years old.
  • Viccky Gutierrez was killed on January 10 in Los Angeles, California.

GLAAD is calling on the media to:

  • Report on the brutal violence perpetrated against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. With violence against transgender people at an all-time high and rising, national media coverage is severely lacking. The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack. In order for people to be aware of the horrific violence affecting the community, the public needs to know it is happening. The media has a responsibility to communicate about the deadly realities faced by transgender people.
  • Respect and use the lived identity, name, and pronoun of the victim. Report on each victim with dignity and respect, portraying them as a person, not just a statistic. Disregarding the victim's gender identity and misgendering them in news reports adds further insult to injury, compounding the tragedy by invalidating who the victims were. GLAAD's Doubly Victimized: Reporting on Transgender Victims of Crime offers clear guidelines for reporting respectfully on stories where transgender people have been victimized by crime. GLAAD's Media Reference Guide also offers a glossary of terms and best practices for fairly and accurately covering transgender stories.

As necessary, GLAAD reaches out to media outlets to correct incidents of irresponsible reporting where misgendering and victim-blaming occur. We also work with local communities and advocates, connecting them to journalists to confirm information about the victims. If you see a news story which misgenders a transgender victim and/or publishes details about their personal life irrelevant to their murder, contact us at transgender@glaad.org.

    Background

    Victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. While some homicides have not yet been identified as hate crimes due to lack of information about the perpetrators or motives, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports an alarming multi-year trend showing that transgender women experience a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group.

    In 2017, 26 transgender people were killed in the United States and nearly all of the victims were transgender women of color. This number does not include transgender people whose deaths were not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim's family.

      Additional Resources: