There was little doubt in anyone’s mind about who murdered Jennifer Laude from day one. After all, Marine PVT Scott Pemberton was caught on CCTV leaving a bar with Jennifer shortly before her death. Pemberton’s fellow Marines and Jennifer’s friends testified giving damning evidence all indicating a hate crime had been committed.
Many are guessing that Pemberton murdered her after he realized her trans status. But I question that. Did Pemberton take Jennifer to the motel room with the express purpose of committing the heinous crime? Most trans woman have what we call ‘tells’. This is unmistakable visible evidence that distinguishes us as trans. Given that and Pemberton was seen leaving the motel just minutes after arriving premeditation is a distinct possibility.
The AP reported that Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos said there was “probable cause” that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been detained since shortly after the October incident, killed Jennifer Laude.
“It’s murder,” de los Santos told reporters after filing the charge against the 19-year-old Pemberton before a regional court. “It was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”
I feel safe saying all of us in the global transgender community are relived and hopeful that there will eventually be Justice For Jennifer but I still have to ask…
What in the actual fuck?
The story of the murder of trans woman Jennifer Laude began with the country’s mainstream media dehumanizing Laude with transphobic tropes and demonizer her in death with transphoobic slurs.
This eventually transformed into the philippines gradually accepting her morphing into national actual pride in their transgender citizenry.
So why in the actual fuck did the AP just publish a article using her birth name?
The issue of names came to the forefront with the confusion about whether Chelsea Manning was trans or cis. But when it became abundantly clear about how she identifies the AP Editors, much to their credit, sent this to their associate editors. They did so as to clarify how trans people are to be addressed in the future.
The AP Style guide 2013:
Transgender: Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly. See transsexual.
transsexual: A person who changes gender by undergoing surgical procedures. See transgender.
transgender (adj.) is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person’s transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.
Transgender is generally preferable to the older transsexual. Do not use the offensive slang tranny.
Jennifer Laude was murdered during the month of October, 2014. She had been identified ad nauseam by her birth name by various news outlets. Most of those smaller outlets have listened to the trans community and have deferred from doing this again.
Why hasn’t the one most quoted and respected global news service done the same?
Mainstream writers and authors, please listen to this. You set the tone for how society views transgender people. If you misgender us, it spreads like wildfire. If you use defamatory language to describe us, people will feel empowered to murder us.
Just as Marine PVT Scott Pemberton did to Jennifer. If Pemberton thought about what he was doing as he stood on that toilet bowl seat drowning Jennifer, transphobic tropes he had read were floating in his head.
AP, the New York Times abides by their style guide, why don’t you? Your writing is a matter of life and death for us. I know you can’t change everything, but please at least give us dignity in death.