MPD apparently outs two crime victims

A tragic and horrific crime occurred today in Truxton Circle/Eckington, with two people being stabbed. As of Wednesday evening, one of the victims has died.

At this point, the big story is that the victims were transgendered. Depending on the source, the victims were either men or women. Fox5 describes them as "transgendered women," and then refers to one as "he." ABC7 reports that two women were stabbed. DCist reports that two "transgendered men" were attacked.

This is a horrible daytime crime, whether or not it turns out to be a hate crime. One of the witnesses described the scene to Fox5:
"He said he couldn't breathe, 'I can't breathe,'" said Frenzell Alexander, a neighbor. "He came down 4th street and was gasping for breath and was bleeding from his neck."
My beef lies with MPD and their handling of the information about this case. As of right now there is a ton of speculation about the gender and sexual orientation of the victims. We know that both victims were seriously injured, and one of them has died. The police have released some sort of information that they were transgendered, but it is unclear where this information came from and how reliable it is.

My first reaction to reading about this story was that it seemed inappropriate and premature to release information pertaining to a crime victim's gender identity. I know that MPD did not release the names of the victims, but that information will eventually come out. MPD has not yet classified this as a hate crime, and a trial is not yet underway (nor has a suspect been identified) so I cannot imagine why releasing that information is relevant or appropriate.

Furthermore, I have a hard time believing that the victims of this crime (especially the deceased) had a discussion with the police about what gender they identify themselves as. Even if they were found wearing the clothing of the opposite sex, the police should only identify them by age and their gender as indicated on their driver's license.

As best as I can tell, it sounds like two women (who possibly identify themselves as men) were attacked, one was killed. The suspect is a black male who fled on 4th Street. That's all we know. Out of respect for the victims and their families it seems inappropriate and wrong for MPD to be speculating on their gender identification so soon after the crime.


  1. This has to be against some policy or protocol. Generally, there is limited information given about victims of crimes - especially such violent, personal attacks. Names are rarely given. Has MPD commented at all on the release of this information. Have they confirmed they even now the meaning of "transgendered." Seems like an awfully big word for them.

  2. "Even if they were found wearing the clothing of the opposite sex, the police should only identify them by age and gender as indicated on their driver's license."

    Hell. No.

    AP Stylebook says you gender people in articles according to their preference (or, if preference is unknown, presentation), and it has it right. The police should do likewise. In many states, it is difficult or impossible for a pre- or non-operative transgender person to change his or her sex marker.

    Why the state wants to confuse the bejeezus out of any officer who pulls me over or goes looking for me, I just can't fathom... but the fact of the matter is, if the police reported my sex marker to the media, THAT would be outing me. (Not that I'm stealth, anyway, but it would be nice if the cashier at Walgreen's didn't greet me with, "Oh, hey, you're that tranny that got stabbed!")

  3. I was curious about that, due to the problem of how you'd be classified on your ID. In any event, either report what was displayed (based on appearance) or what was on the ID... but there's no need to mention the 'trangendered' part. Do you agree?

  4. If there is someone going around attacking transgendered (or any other identifiable group) people I would prefer to know it. There is a difference between a random attack/mugging and a targeted one.

  5. Right, but that hasn't been determined.

  6. I'll take (with a grain of salt) whatever information can be provide, I'm not in the habit of letting the government or the media decide the truth for me.

    If people are a little more careful walking down the street, are a little more likely to report suspicious behaviour, are little more likely to watch out for the fellow human beings, I little more likely to shun that person who yells "what the hell is that", I'm for it.

  7. Dave,

    It's a difficult issue. On the one hand, I don't want to say that anyone ought to be outed against their will, but on the other, I do think that murders of trans people need to get media attention AS the murders of trans people, because trans people (especially trans women of color) are so frequently murdered. I think it's important that people realize how frequently trans people are murdered, because it looks a lot like cultural genocide (especially if you look at the comments on some of the news stories, where apologism for, and even outright endorsement of, the murders is alarmingly common.

    I think that probably the best solution is to mention the transgender status of the victim, but not the name.

  8. If the gender identification is relevant to the crime, then it should be released once that determination is made. I just don't see a need to immediately release that information. It will still be a story and get media attention a day or so later once more information has been gathered and the families have had some time to be notified and such.

    It is very complicated.

  9. Complicated indeed. I just wanted to get my less common point of view (libertarian/enlightened self-interest/pro-RKBA pro-self-defense) out.