Saturday morning, Aug. 16, Kansas City woman Tamara Dominguez was killed in an intentional hit-and-run.She was struck by an SUV three times before the driver departed. This monster hit Dominguez, backed up and ran over her again.
Dominguez is the 18th transgender woman to be reported murdered in this year alone. That’s more than two trans women killed per month, and these are only the reported cases. It is appalling that so many women have lost their lives to bigotry and hatred in this year alone.
Transgender individuals, more specifically transgender women of color like Dominguez are at a much higher risk of violence and discrimination.
Despite the fact that we as a culture are becoming more progressive and supportive, we refuse to address the severe and atrocious prejudice that trans gender individuals face in their day-to-day life. As a society we’re happy to revel in the pageantry and rainbows of pride parades and tag our Instagram pictures with #lovewins, but for many members of the LGBTQ+ community, being themselves means risking death and violence every time they leave the house.
By turning LGBTQ+ individuals into two-dimensional caricatures, stereotypes for our enjoyment, we dehumanize them and distance ourselves from their struggle. This view of LGBTQ+ persons as spectacle and tropes like the lam boyant “gay best friend” or the fan service lesbian make-out session on television creates a culture which makes it easy for our culture to continuously push against LGBTQ+ individuals and view them as “others” instead of as human beings with an inherent right to exist and express themselves without threat of violence.
Transgender individuals especially face this “othering” and are very rarely seen in media, and almost never in a positive light, which brings us to the point of this editoral.
The point to make is not “all people deserve the right to express themselves and not be murdered for it.” This should not be controversial, and if you ever run into someone who disagrees with that statement, you should steer clear and contact the authorities immediately.
The point we would like to make is to the author(s) of the original report. In the original report Dominguez is repeatedly misgendered. Even in death people with power disrespected and dismissed her identity.
We as journalists understand the importance of words. Words form culture and shape the way we view the world.It is essential that journalists use correct pronouns for transgender individuals and stop asking wildly inappropriate questions during interviews with persons.
If we would like to live in a society that treats LGBTQ+ people as people, we must be gin by understanding LGBTQ+ language and respecting this language in journalism and other media. If we set our ourselves as examples, this respectful behavior will begin to spread into our everyday lives as well.
To the family and friends of Tamara, we give our condolences and hope that justice is served and that other young women do not lose their lives to violent prejudice.