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The AP Style leaves no room for doubt: journalist reporting on transgender individuals must use those people’s preferred pronouns in their stories. But many like Leelah Alcorn, an Ohio transwoman who committed suicide, don’t get that sort of respect.
After Alcorn’s death, I was surrounded by reminders that whenever transgender people get media attention, they face considerable misgendering and “dead-naming.” That’s when a trans person is referred to by their given name instead of their preferred one. It’s a form of outing. It denies their identity’s legitimacy and labels them in a dangerous and disrespectful way.
Dead-naming and misgendering are examples of transphobia, which drove her to suicide. Yet media giants like FOX, People, and CNN still embrace transphobic rhetoric, alienating queer people from their own stories and perpetuating hostility towards them.
Leelah, your experience was important. Only voices like your truly expose the dearth of resources for transgender people. You should have the right to be understood, to express that voice somewhere other than a suicide note.