Updated below the jump.
I was just going to post on a case of police brutality against a transgender resident of Portland, Oregon, but once again the media is so not up to speed on these issues that it's hard to tell what even happened. Here's The Oregonian:
A transgender driver who claims a Portland police officer grabbed her breasts and genitalia during a search instead of waiting for a female cop to arrive is suing the city for more than $200,000.
The suit states that Chlole Lucero, 27, "is male in outward appearance" but notes that her driver's license identifies her as female. The suit claims the officer was aware of this designation.
So is the plaintiff a trans man who hasn't had his documentation or name officially changed? Or is the plaintiff a trans woman who knows she doesn't pass? That's an important distinction, especially when the suit is saying the plaintiff wanted to be searched by a female officer and is accusing the police officer (Kevin Macho... only in the city that gave us "Beau Breedlove") of sexual aggression.
The journalist used female pronouns to refer to Lucero, but there's no reason to believe she got it right, especially when she and her editors referred to the plaintiff as "Chlole" in the second paragraph and as "Chloe" afterwards (not saying whether that's the plaintiff's birth name or current name). A gay publisher quoted towards the bottom uses "she," but the article doesn't say that he knows the victim or is familiar with the case and maybe he was just using the same pronouns the interviewing journalist was using.
I've posted about how journalists just don't know what they're doing sometimes before when it comes to stories involving transgender people (especially non-famous transgender people). It's not just about respect, it's about presenting the facts of a story in a way that readers know what went on instead of being left to imagine for themselves.
Like that story earlier this year of transgender people of unknown gender going topless at Rehoboth Beach and being told to cover up, media coverage and punditry that follow usually don't interview the people involved in these stories and just regurgitate the facts from the original media source. If the first story isn't right, it's probably not going to be corrected by other journalists.
The Oregonian is the only publication covering this story with original journalism, so there's no way to know what actually happened or even what the people involved are saying happened.
So I'm not writing about police brutality today and about the silliness of demanding a cop be of the same gender of citizen being searched instead of demanding accountability for inappropriate police behavior, which there usually isn't much of. Basing everything on the gender of the people involved in the search assumes that all police officers are 100% heterosexual, that straight men and women can't sexually abuse and humiliate members of their own sex, that sexual abuse and humiliation is based on sexual attraction, and that everyone identifies as either a man or a woman and their appearances and paperwork all match up.
I get mad enough at people punditing off false information, which usually leads to wild conclusions, so I'm just not going to say anything here. But it doesn't help that the police spokesperson The Oregonian reached out to for comment seems to have referred to the plaintiff as "it."
Update: I just got off the phone with GLAAD. They talked to the reporter who said that she couldn't get interviews with either the plaintiff or her attorney, and that the suit itself mentions a name change from a male first name to the female first name Chloe. So there we go.