Open Letter to the NY Times Re: Their Coverage of Lorena Escalera’s Death
How dare you.
The transgender community is hurting really badly right now. Since the beginning of this year, five trans women of color have been killed– Deoni Jones, Coko Williams, Paige Clay, Brandy Martell, and Lorena Escalera– three of them (Coko, Paige and Brandy) in April alone.
Another trans woman of color, CeCe MacDonald, is expected to spend 41 months in a man’s prison for defending herself from becoming the victim of a similar hate crime.
Transgender artist Mark Aguhar also committed suicide this year. Her loss was crushing to many, especially to young trans people who live in isolated areas and depend on the internet for a sense of community. She is far from being the only one. 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide, and this number does not take into account those who have completed suicide successfully. No wonder, given that we constantly hear about people like us being murdered. It leads to a certain sense of hopelessness.
Trans people, especially trans people of color, are dying constantly, by murder or by suicide. Trans people who dare fight back, like Cece MacDonald, are punished for surviving. The rest of us live in fear, and are exhausted by grief.
Your disgraceful article about Lorena Escalera, a talented young model and performer, was utterly devoid of compassion, respect, or of awareness of its context. It was smug, sneaky, and mean. It started out referring to Lorena as the beautiful woman she was, albeit using a series of misogynistic tropes and innuendos about her character, then made the “shocking” revelation that she was transgender mid-stream, and ended by referring to her as “the dead man.”
Trans people are often accused of being “deceivers” for not broadcasting our gender history to the world (no wonder that we are hesitant to do so, given the murderous way that non-transgender people sometimes react when we come out!). I felt that your article was in fact deceptive. It started out somewhat innocently, and ended up downright insulting. In retrospect, I suppose the comments on Lorena’s appearance (since when is it appropriate to refer to a dead woman as ‘curvaceous?’) should have tipped me off to its slimy intentions,
It’s bad enough that our trans siblings are dying left and right, without the media spitting on their dead bodies and trying to take their hard-won genders away.
The fact that so many of you non-transgender people think that it is OK to mock the dead shows that you lack the smallest shred of human decency.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
Write one yourself and send it to email@example.com. If you want them to actually publish it keep it shorter than mine– 150 words max. Here’s their bullshit guidelines.
(originally published at my blog on tranarchism.com)