Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ruby Molina Is HER Name

Okay, I'm just about ready to put some of you media peeps in the same intellectual class as Sarah Palin and George W. Bush.

Exactly what is it about reporting on transpeople that causes y'all to screw it up EVERY time despite having clear guidelines in the AP Stylebook that a fifth grader could follow?

Let's try this again shall we?

People, take out your AP Stylebook, turn to the section that says 'sex changes and you will see this:

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.


Now, let's apply what you learned to a real life situation shall we?

You have a body pulled out of a river that has long hair, breasts, nail polish on her nails and a penis. That combination of features should tell you that you have a transgender person to write about. How do you write the story based on the AP Stylebook rules?

Not the way this Sacramento TV station did or Sacramento Bee reporter Kim Minugh wrote it. - kminugh@sacbee.com

Police investigating death of 22-year-old as suspicious

Sacramento police are investigating the death of a transgender person pulled from the American River last week as suspicious.

The body of 22-year-old Fernando Molina of Sacramento was discovered by a fisherman east of the Highway 160 bridge on Sept. 21, according to police. There were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play, but police say circumstances surrounding the death prompted them to label itas suspicious.

Molina, who biologically was a man, was in the process of transitioning to a female and presented himself as a woman, police said. He was known to friends and family as "Ruby."

Police say Molina was known to frequent the Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard area and Sacramento's downtown area. Investigators are asking anyone who might have had contact with Molina for the two weeks prior to his death contact them.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

****

Okay, in Ruby Molina's case, when they pulled HER body out of the American River, she had long hair, breasts and polish on her nails.

Hello, isn't that a fracking big clue she's living as a female DESPITE the neoclit between her legs?

Kim, here's the way the story should have been written using AP Stylebook rules.

****

Police investigating death of 22-year-old as suspicious

Sacramento police are investigating the death of a transgender woman pulled from the American River last week as suspicious.

The body of 22-year-old Ruby Molina of Sacramento was discovered by a fisherman east of the Highway 160 bridge on Sept. 21, according to police. There were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play, but police say circumstances surrounding the death prompted them to label it as suspicious.

Molina, born Fernando, was in the process of transitioning to a female.

Police say Molina was known to frequent the Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard area and Sacramento's downtown area. Investigators are asking anyone who might have had contact with Molina for the two weeks prior to his death contact them.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

****

I'm still waiting for the day when a media outlet gets the story and pronouns right the FIRST time when it involves a transgender person.

Oh snap, I just remembered. I have at least once in my lifetime read a report on a transgender person done correctly the first time. It was the African-American magazine JET doing this story on Justina Williams in 1979.

Interestingly enough they did this without having AP Stylebook guidelines to refer to. So if they could do this in 1979, what's the media's problem getting it right in the early 21st century?

9 comments:

Renee said...

Please excuse me for asking, but I was always told that one should never refer to someone who is transitioning or has transitioned by their former name. This article refered to her name when she presented as male. I know that it is not your job to teach me, but I really need clarification because I do not want to offend anyone in the future. Thanks for taking the time and please excuse my ignorance on the matter.

Monica Roberts said...

Renee, no problem. There's going to be times when I ask you for clarifications on issues as well in order to 'ejumacate' myself.

You're right. A transperson's former name is not supposed to be in there unless it is germane to the story. That part is the gray area of the AP policy.

But putting Ruby's name in quotation marks was flat out wrong.

Donna said...

Thanks for that. Note the last paragraph of what should have been said should be changed to:

Police say Molina was known to frequent the Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard area and Sacramento's downtown area. Investigators are asking anyone who might have had contact with Molina for the two weeks prior to her death contact them.

Lisa Harney said...

The first story got referred to her as a transgender woman, but still asserted she was "really" a male, and no name came up.

The news broadcast was egregiously horrible, referring to her as a "transgender man" and as "transitioning from male to female" and everyone avoided pronouns. I actually reported this video to GLAAD, but strangely, they haven't responded (unlike other reports I've made).

I was also frustrated with the first story, in which apparently finding a trans woman's naked, drowned, body apparently doesn't indicate "foul play." It's nice to see that they've upgraded to "suspicious," but still.

Polar said...

I wonder how Kim Minugh would like it, if her bio were rewritten in reverse, calling her male. As in
"Kim Minugh is a reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He doesn't have the sense that God gave jumbo shrimp".

That's what he's done to Ruby Molina.

Why don't we start referring to reporters, television and print, deliberately and PERSONALLY in the wrong gender and with the wrong pronouns, every time these assholes pull this kind of crap?

VĂ©ronique said...

Polar, you might be onto something there.

Lisa Harney said...

I wish we had the institutional/systemic power to do that and have it be meaningful. :(

I do agree with doing it, though.

Renee said...

@Monica thanks for answering my question.

Markee said...

Unfortunately the local GLBT newspaper, Outword, did the same thing to Ruby. I sent them a note which they published, but it's really sad when our allies can't seem to get it right.

Markee