Yesterday, a trans woman was found dead in Orlando—and initial reports of her death repeatedly misgendered her and invalidated her identity.
Early Thursday morning, police found the body of 27-year-old Sasha Garden, a trans woman of color, outside an Orlando apartment complex. Her body showed signs of trauma, and her death is currently under investigation, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
Mulan Montrese Williams, an advocate for trans woman at local HIV/AIDS group Miracle of Love, told Orlando Weekly that Garden came to Orlando by way of Milwaukee. “She was traveling a lot, trying to find a new home and find herself,” Williams said, noting that Garden was a sex worker who dreamed of becoming a hairstylist.
Williams says it’s likely she died while on the job.
“You know when something happens, we don’t call police,” she added. “We don’t want to be judged by the police. We don’t want to be misgendered by officers. They still tell us, ’We have to call you by your government name, what’s on your ID.'”
And that was exactly what happened. According to Williams, police came to Miracle of Love looking for more information about Garden. They seemed “very uneducated,” “acted like [they] couldn’t even pronounce ’transgender,'” and described Garden as a man who “was wearing a wig and was dressed as a female.” What’s worse, some local TV news outlets followed suit, referring to Garden as a “man dressed as a woman.”
Friends of Garden told Orlando Weekly that they called the news stations and asked them to respectfully issue a correction, but their requests were denied. (Eventually, headlines were changed to reflect Garden’s identity.)
QLatinx, an Orlando-based advocacy group, took to Facebook to “[call on] our media partners and local law enforcement to be more reflective of their practices.”
Sadly, this is hardly the first time a news outlet has botched its coverage of a trans person’s death.
Just this March, 28-year-old Amia Tyrae Berryman of Baton Rouge, L.A., was misgendered and dead-named in initial reports of her murder.
Garden’s death marks the 14th known fatality of a transgender person due to anti-trans violence in the U.S. this year. Like Garden, the majority of this year’s victims were trans women of color.