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Another Fight for Transgender Community: 'Deadnaming'

It's when police refer to trans crime victims by their birth name and gender
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2018 8:02 AM CDT
The transgender symbol.   (Getty/nito100)

(Newser) – A ProPublica story shines a light on what might be a new term for many: deadnaming. It refers to a practice abhorred in the transgender community: when somebody refers to a trans person by the name—and thus, the gender—they no longer use. The story by Lucas Waldron and Ken Schwencke, however, zeroes in more specifically on how the practice is common in police investigations. They found that 65 law enforcement agencies have investigated murders of trans victims since 2015, and in the vast majority of cases (74 of 85), the victims were identified by their old names or genders. The trans community sees this as more than disrespectful: They say it will hurt investigations because those who knew the victim might not be aware of the person's past.

"If Susie is murdered, don’t use 'Sam,'" says journalist Monica Roberts, who tracks the murders of transgender people. The story uses the example of three murders of trans women in Jacksonville, Fla., over the past six months, cases in which police keep referring to the victims publicly as males. Like many other police departments, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says its policy is to use the name and sex listed on the medical examiner's report. Not all departments follow suit: "That might lose the cooperation of the friends and family—the people we need to solve the case," says a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Click for the full story, which notes that one way to ease the problem is to reduce the cost and bureaucracy involved with legally changing one's name and gender marker. (Read more Longform stories.)

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