Transgender Woman Murdered - Media Response Varies
Tragically, Minneapolis has our first homicide of the year: Chrissie Bates, a 45-year-old transgender woman.
I don't usually write about homicides that occur outside the Second Ward, but I thought it was worth pointing out that some of the local news media did a stellar job reporting on this event with clarity and sensitivity, while others did not.
The good and the pretty good: City Pages and the Star Tribune. Both outlets used the personal pronoun "her" when describing the victim, as in the phrase "in her apartment" from the Star Tribune article. But the City Pages, and particularly reporter Erin Carlyle, did far and away the best job. They have, at the time of this writing, posted not one but two informative articles, quoting extensively from neighbors and public employees.
As importantly, Erin and the City Pages embraced who Chrissie was, unapologetically, clearly, and as if her identity was not a question or assertion. For example, where the Star Tribune used the phrase "transgender person," the City Pages used the phrase "transgender woman." Where the Star Tribune explained the victim's transgender status by stating that "[a]lthough police said the victim was a man, neighbors say she lived as a woman," the City Pages simply noted that she was "[f]ormerly known as Christopher Bates." And where the Star Tribune put quotation marks around the victim's name of choice, "Chrissy," the City Pages openly used her name, sans quotes, in the headline. City Pages even went a step further, reaching out to the GLBT community and finding out about the vigil planned for January 21, from 6-7:30pm.
But at least the Star Tribune tried. All other major media sources referred to the victim as a man, used her former name, and used male personal pronouns. The bad: Fox 29, KARE 11, MPR, KSTP, WCCO, and the Pioneer Press.
Kudos and thanks to the Star Tribune and especially to the City Pages and Erin Carlyle for reporting on this tragic event in a way that respected the victim enough to describe her as she described herself.