Debatable: LMT, stop deadnaming


The Magnet Tribune: Family

Janelle Ortiz sits in her home in this obituary photo.

Angie Bravo and Luis Bravo

I am appalled by the Laredo Morning Time’s coverage regarding the murder of Janelle Ortiz. Of the many issues facing the transgender community today, “deadnaming,” or using a person’s name assigned at birth rather than their preferred gender has been prevalent in media coverage – and the Laredo Morning Times is complicit.

Janelle Ortiz was murdered by the Border Patrol agent, Juan David Ortiz who has no association to Janelle.

In the September 18th and 19th article that profiles Janelle, she is consistently referred to by her birth name and wrong pronouns. Moreover, the article incorporates numerous quotes from family members that misgender Janelle without much of an explanation or clarification from the reporter.

Using someone’s preferred name and gender pronouns is much more than simple political correctness. When the wrong name is used in news articles and television coverage, it can complicate the gathering of statistics regarding the transgender community. Because of deadnaming, it is currently difficult to predict the rates of transgender hate crimes, murders, and suicides. This can also have serious ramifications in the carrying of justice as well as the allocation of state and federal resources.

Moreover, the use of a birth name instead of a person’s preferred name is the very idea transphobia is built on. Regarding someone by their name empowers people by recognizing the individual, validating their experiences, and taking into account their perspective. Disregarding a name, disregards a person entirely and doesn’t take into account how a person chooses to view themselves. Deadnaming is more than simply rude, it’s dehumanizing.

When we fail to acknowledge people as they choose to present themselves we strip them from their humanity and push them towards invisibility. While transphobia will most certainly continue to be a societal issue for years to come, we can at least begin disrupting it by using a person’s proper name.