On April 28th, 2015, The Sun Herald paper in Biloxi Mississippi reported on a crime committed by “two men,” Cameron Michael Anglin and Richard Alan Mauffray. Through sources that reached out to us, it was confirmed that Mauffray is a trans woman who was booked as a man.
Mauffray, who’s name is Alaina Mauffray was unavailable for comment concerning the booking process, but Planet Transgender reached out to the Biloxi, Mississippi Police department and they transferred the call to the Harrison County Jail in Mississippi where Mauffray is being held on $120,000 bond. According to the jail administrator, “if he is a man then he is in the men’s section, if he’s a woman, he’s in the women’s section.” When pressed to find out if she was booked as a trans inmate into the women’s section of the prison, the administrator confirmed that Mauffray is being housed in the men’s section DE135.
The Sun Herald editor didn’t respond to our twitter request for answers regarding the violation of AP Style Handbook rules when reporting on people who are transgender. According to AP Style, when reporting on people who are transgender, proper pronouns must be consistent with the way the individuals live publicly, and according to a close friend, Alaina Mauffray has been transitioning for about a year and requires female pronouns. Her Facebook profile also confirms a gender marker of ‘female.’
Article author Robin Fitzgerald of the Sun Herald did tell us that the incorrect pronoun usage and dead naming were not her decision, “It was a quick editorial decision changed on second thought, we used the name police provided.” She went on to say that “It was not my decision to that sentence and it was later removed.” The incorrect sentence had not been removed or changed and when questioned about this, Robin Fitzgerald said, “It’s either the legal name or name on the driver’s license,” but wouldn’t address the incorrect pronouns usage.
Mauffray’s best friend Lea Reed came to her defense, “They’re a criminal so therefore they no longer deserve any rights whatsoever? ….My best friend has been mistreated by the journalists, holding facilities, the general public and people who *think* they know her and most of you feel that it’s okay because she got charged with a crime. Crime is wrong, yes. That’s why she is doing time, however, that doesn’t make it okay to dehumanize her and talk about her and turn her into the joke.”
Although there is no excuse for the crime[s] that Alaina Mauffray has committed, there is no reason why the Sun Herald should be violating basic AP Style Handbook guidelines when it comes to reporting on people who are transgender. Our pronouns define who we are and are dictated only by us and we should not be defined by what the media wants to refer to us as.