The Star Tribune was the only news outlet in the country to not identify Cece McDonald as a transgender woman in stories about her release from prison on Monday.
In its story of McDonald’s release, the paper wrote:
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, 25, a man in transition to being a woman, left the men’s prison in St. Cloud and will be under continued supervision by Hennepin County until the 41-month term ends in February 2015, according to a department spokeswoman.
It was the only news story around the country to put quotes around Cece’s name in the headline suggesting that the name Cece has chosen for herself is not accurate, and instead used her birth name “Chrishaun.” And the paper took pains not to use a pronoun for Cece after labeling her a “man in transition to being a woman.”
The Star Tribune’s microaggressions did not go unnoticed. Several on Twitter criticized the reporting.
The @StarTribune’s treatment of CeCe McDonald is a strong argument for why news organizations of any size need ombudsmen.
I’m glad that @StarTribune is covering CeCe McDonald but wish that @walshpj would use proper pronouns. http://www.glaad.org/publications/transgendervictimsofcrime … #FreeCeCe
According to GLAAD, “It is never appropriate to put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s chosen name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.”
GLAAD also notes, “The Associated Press Stylebook provides guidelines for journalists reporting on transgender people and issues. According to the AP Stylebook, reporters should ‘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.’”
Cece clearly lives publicly as a woman. In fact, the paper said as much early in her case. “McDonald is a man who is ‘in the process of becoming female,’ receiving hormone treatment while living as a woman.” Yet in the vast majority of the coverage, the paper did not give her a gender.
And it’s not the first time the Star Tribune lacked the proper representations of Cece, as reporter Kristal Hawkins noted in 2012:
Early Star Tribune articles carefully avoided choosing a pronoun and making a gender decision, instead repeatedly referring to McDonald as “a person in transition from a man to a woman”; a later Star Tribune article specifically noting that McDonald undergoes female hormone treatments still used the pronoun “he.”
GLAAD has noted that the misgendering of transgender people contributes to ignorance, as they noted late last year in a story about the misgendering of another woman of color in New Jersey by papers in that state.
“The staggering amount of violence perpetrated on transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, must stop,” said GLAAD national spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “When media outlets disrespect transgender victims by refusing to acknowledge their true identities, it perpetuates the ignorance that leads to such violence. Journalists have a responsibility to recognize transgender women as human beings worthy of respect – even in death.”