Friday, July 25, 2008

Update: Police say murder of transgender Latina teen was "provoked by her lifestyle"

[UPDATE: Upon being contacted by GLAAD, ABC News has changed the opening sentence of the article from "The beating death of a transgender teenager in Colorado may have been provoked by her lifestyle, police said" to "An 18-year-old found dead inside her Colorado apartment last week may have been targeted because she was transgender, police said"].

The murder of 18 year-old Angie Zapata in Colorado last week has been slowly gaining attention from national media with the latest report coming today from the national bureau at ABC News ("Transgender teen's death a hate crime?").

On Wednesday I noted that transgender blogger Monica Roberts at TransGriot was incensed that the original Associated Press article on the murder failed to disclose that Angie was transgendered (the AP reporter wrote a follow-up piece in which he wrote Zapata was "living as a woman").

David Scoetz at ABC News brings the discrepancy up indirectly:
While Zapata may have lived as a young woman, [Sgt. Joseph] Tymkowych, the police spokesman, explained that because she never legally changed her name to Angie, prosecutors can only bring charges in the case using Justin Zapata to identify the victim.

'We don't have a problem using 'Angie,'' Tymkowych said. 'We don't want to offend the family or anyone with gender concerns, but for it to be a good, clean prosecution, we can't identify a victim who doesn't exist.'
More disturbing to me is Sgt. Tymkowych's statement that the murder "may have been provoked by her lifestyle."

Being transgender is not a lifestyle just as being gay isn't (lifestyles can be easily changed, gender and sexual identities not so much) although I realize how entrenched these erroneous concepts are in some parts of society.

As for ABC News leading the piece with that statement, I realize they are paraphrasing someone else's words but their placement certainly gives them weight.

As for Angie's family, it's incredibly moving to see how much they loved her. They spoke to the local Colorado Fox News affiliate Fox 31 yesterday ("Family of transgender teen speak out"). You can find a link to a video interview with Angie's sister at the site.

Previosuly on Blabbeando:


libhom said...

The "lifestyle" comment is doubly offensive. It trivializes the lives of transgender and other queers, even when one of us has been murdered. It also is appalling because, even if being transgender were a lifestyle, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it.

There is no legitimate claim to suggest that being transgender "provokes" people.

Sick sick sick,

Svenja-and-the-City said...

It's a real shame, that so many people still think transgender people have a provoking life style.
This is 2008!
Please hang on and don't ever lose your energy.
Hugs from Germany, Svenja