The Rabid, Transphobic Hate-Mongering of the Anti-Pornography Movement
October 24, 2010
November 18, 2010

De-transitioned in Death, How the Media Disrespects Transgender People

I’m tired. Tired of the so called “liberal media” disrespecting our dead.  Hell, even our own “LGB(t) media does it. Ya know, “Today a transgender woman, Jane Doe,  who was formerly known as John Doe, was murdered today.”  A few examples:

“The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office reported today that the victim of a fatal shooting in Maplewood on Sunday was Victoria Carmen White, formerly James White. White had legally changed her name to Victoria Carmen following sex reassignment surgery.”- Maplewood Patch

“Detectives originally thought the 28-year-old victim, from Roxwell, near Chelmsford, Essex, may have drowned, but a post mortem has revealed unexplained head injuries.

Ms Chappel, formerly known as Bryan Hooley, underwent a sex-change operation in 1994.”- BBC News

But it’s not just the mainstream media doing it. Edge, a “Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) news and entertainment portal”, posted this:

“Johnson’s arrest for prostitution last winter led to a police interrogation in which Johnson–formerly known as Dwayne Johnson–was beaten by police officers.” – EDGE Boston

and On Top ( “a gay advocacy website”):

“Andrade has confessed to killing Zapata, formerly known as Justin Zapata, in a fit of rage when he confronted her about her sexuality.”- On Top

and the latest example:

“Police spokesperson Sgt. Ray Evers said Blahnik, whose birth name is Michael Lee, was strangled with a pillowcase.” – Philadelphia Gay News

It’s 2010, and as the Transgender Day of Remembrance comes close I think it’s time that ALL media stop disrespecting our dead brothers and sisters this way.  As a health care worker, I could be fired for revealing personal health information (HIPAA) of a patient.  If not illegal,  revealing personal health information after death is highly unethical.  And publishing the birth name or surgical status  of  these murder victims doesn’t serve any purpose,  other than titillation.  Go back and reread each one of these articles and remove the transgender person’s birth name. Does it change the story at all?

I know that in the past transgender people were outside of the public eye and that maybe media outlets didn’t know any better (never mind widely accepted journalistic standards).  I hope that from this day forward every media outlet can be more respectful of  our fallen transgender brothers and sisters.  Many died living their truth. If you’re a journalist and you post their former name,  you’re effectively  stripping their lives of that truth.

Please, just stop it.

Marti Abernathey
Marti Abernathey

Marti Abernathey is the founder of the Transadvocate and the previous managing editor.

Abernathey has worn many different hats, including that of podcaster, activist, and radiologic technologist.

She’s been a part of various internet radio ventures such as TSR Live!, The T-Party, and The Radical Trannies, TransFM, and Sodium Pentathol Sunday.

As an advocate she’s previously been involved with the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Rock Indiana Campaign for Equality, and the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition. She’s taken vital roles as a grass roots community organizer in The Indianapolis Tax Day Protest (2003), The Indy Pride HRC Protest (2004), Transgender Day of Remembrance (2004), Indiana’s Witch Hunt (2005), and the Rally At The Statehouse (the largest ever GLBT protest in Indiana – 3/2005).

In 2008 she was a delegate from Indiana to the Democratic National Convention and a member of Barack Obama’s LGBT Steering and Policy Committee.

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  • Anonymous

    It’d be nice, but Media subsists on titilating the readers, and unfortunately, ungendering us is a quick easy way to boost sales or page-hits. If doing the right thing means giving up an easy sales/hit boost, the right thing will ALWAYS fall to the wayside in the media. Sad, frustrating, hateful and evil, but ultimately true. If we want them to do what’s right, we have to hit them in the pocketbook. The media will NEVER put what’s right first unless it becomes financially impossible to avoid it.

  • Firebird_1957

    I wonder if the mainstream media realizes that we have some of the very best wordsmiths in two communities? Transadvocates, and the Intersex Activists? How would they like being on the receiving end of a writing war? Just as they do, we can use innuendo to create grief for them, and justify it by “freedom of the press” 1st amendment rights.

  • A. Lurker

    This concept has always bugged me, in the case of any name change. “Did you know that Bob Dylan isn’t his ‘real’ name?!” No, i didn’t, and i didn’t want to know, and he might not want us too, either. And, what part of his name isn’t ‘real’?

    In a trans-sense, i’ve been noticing the same problem in the plethora of Police Forensic television. “The first thing we know by looking at the victim’s bones, is that he was male”. Is that REALLY the first thing necessary to discuss? (Perhaps, in a case of unidentified, ‘cold cases’), but, when the victim is clearly female in the flesh?

    The ONLY time i’ve seen it handled sort of well was an episode of Bones. The found victim was a woman, until x-rays were taken. Then she was a ‘he’ to the doctors. Finally, a character said “this person was a woman when she died. Let’s give her some respect in death.” AMEN! But,..wish we, as society, could have skipped the topic in the first place.

    Other worst cases are in obituaries “….is survived by his son, Mary Jane”. A cousin of mine was outed as trans that way, to most of the family. 30+ years of comfortable transition, ruined by the death of a third party.

  • Helene

    and sometimes ius trans themselfes who take pleasure to publish old embarassing pictures of another one, famous, but who has choose to
    hide her passed identity. Should trans inform on the ither ones?

    • Anonymous

      Helene, that’s not the topic of this post. Please stay on topic!

    • Anonymous

      If you’d like to write a post about that, feel free to submit it to

  • Zaac

    I think we should write letters to that news source when something is printed this way. The website has the latest, unfortunate article…

  • Hey_meg

    I agree with what you’re saying, but as I was reading I wondered if you feel differently about this information being disclosed in cases where a transperson is attacked or murdered because they are trans. I tend to feel that it’s good to shed light on the atrocity of such an act in order to raise awareness to stop it.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t have an issue with people murdered being revealed as trans. But revealing their previous name adds absolutely NOTHING to the story.

    • Anonymous

      In fact, the only thing it does say is that trans people are impostors.

    • Zaac

      I believe misgendering the person and using their birth, legal, non-preferred, etc. name in the article is what’s most troublesome and problematic. I’ve seen articles where the author has referred to the individual as “he,” for example, where friends and family members refer to that person as “she” because that is how she identified. I think it just turns the issue around and makes that attack justified..

      • Anonymous

        YES! Exactly Zaac. That’s part of the post I feel like I missed.

      • Anonymous

        Referring to trans people by their non-preferred name is a form of blaming the victim for their own murder.

  • Anonymous

    Amen…So fed up with this. Many of these misgendering media stories are fed by local police departments who degender the transperson and call then by old names and wrong pronouns despite visual evidence to the contrary.

    Our media peeps don’t think to ask the question or aren’t cognizant until after they’ve printed the story that the person is trans.

  • Zaac

    Thank you for writing and raising awareness about this. It amazes me each and every time I see something like that. What does it bring to the story except disrespect and sensationalism? I’ve often thought to myself that I can only hope if I end up in one of these news reports I am respected and honored after death, and that the only thing that people won’t remember is what my name used to be or that I’ve had SRS. Ridiculous.

  • Vocal_me

    That goes for the living as well as the dead!

    • Anonymous

      Yes! I agree. It just seems 200 times worse in death, but it’s never a good thing.

  • Anonymous

    I especially like this: “Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person.”