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Respect in death for our trans siblings
Another mass shooting, another act of violence against our community. We’re numbed to it, deadened to the daily nature of murders of our siblings and only the largest, shocking numbers grab the headlines now.
This is why we honor Trans Day of Remembrance, to make sure no life goes unremembered even if their story didn’t receive media attention and the community didn’t hold vigils at the time of their death.
The shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, CO, ironically happened Nov. 20, Trans Day of Remembrance, adding more names to remember to the grim list. What stood out to me in the aftermath as a unique difference this time was how the victims were honored without deadnaming or misgendering, a too-common issue in the media when it comes to LGBTQ+ victims of violence.
When a representative of the Colorado Springs Police Department announced the names of the five victims of the Club Q shooting, he said on Twitter: “We will be identifying the victims by how they identified themselves and how their families have loved and identified them.” He also said each victim’s pronouns after their name. This gave the media the precedent to report on these people this way.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in honor of Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in Boston in 1998. A Boston Herald story, and surely many others, deadnamed Hester and used he/him pronouns to refer to her in the coverage of her murder. We’re often urged to “say their names” after someone is killed unjustly but saying their actual name is so important when it comes to transgender people. The media has consistently failed at this over the years, prompting work by journalists within the community to fact-check and be respectful when others wouldn’t, like Monica Roberts of TransGriot did. We did it for ourselves like Cleve Jones did by creating the AIDS Memorial Quilt for us all to be able to remember our dead with respect when society at large would not.
This moment of respect by the Colorado Springs Police Department is the bare minimum, make no mistake, but it is certainly progress. Instead of LGBTQ+ people being the only ones to respect the victims, the mass media did, too. At this time of year of reflection, prayer, remembrance and resolutions, let’s be grateful for the one step forward of the ability to see the world honor our dead, even while we mourn the heartbreaking two steps back of the desensitizing number of deaths.
Ebone F. Bell is the founder and publisher of Tagg Magazine.