Hospital worker Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar was found dead in her New York apartment last Tuesday, various sources have reported. She had been strangled, there were signs of a struggle in the apartment and detectives suspect she was killed by a man she had been dating.
A friend, Barbara Vega, said Ms Gonzalez-Andujar’s laptop was missing from the apartment and that police were analysing surveillance video taken from inside the building apparently showing “a man whose face was difficult to make out”.
The treatment by the media of Ms Gonzalez-Andujar’s murder has followed a well-worn pattern, focusing on the fact that Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar was a trans woman to produce numerous lurid reports with only the most cursory mention of the relevant facts.
Articles have heaped on the discrimination: reference to her medical transition sensationalises the story; descriptions of what she was wearing add trans-misogyny, and the deliberate misuse of pronouns is simply cissexist. Perhaps the worst culprit in this has been the New York Times, which not only managed to misgender her throughout, but also initially managed to misreport the manner of her death. Although the report was later amended, by then it has achieved its purpose of propagating false assumptions about trans women.
Amongst all this misreporting, a couple of facts stand out to me. First, as a Latin@ trans woman, Ms Gonzalez-Andujar was already at a far greater risk of murder than a white trans woman: as the Trans Murder Monitoring project pointed out in its preliminary report last July, the murder rate is between 75-88% higher for women in this group than for white trans women.
The second thing missing is any form of context of trans murders. Misreporting by the police and the media contributes to the erasure of the murder rates of trans women, yet each and every murder is one more manifestation of the international undeclared war that is being waged against us – and this is never mentioned.
Last year’s stats average out to a murder rate of one trans woman every 52.5 hours – over three a week – and this is on the basis of known, recorded murders; it’s a reasonable assumption that the actual figure is much higher. But even working from the known figures, a quick ‘back of an envelope’ calculation suggests that, if this murder rate was applied to cis women, then at least 1,332,000 cis women globally would have been murdered in the past two years, for nothing more or less than being cis women.
Cases like Ms Gonzalez-Andujar’s are immeasurably sad and the disrespect shown to her after death is inexcusable, but her murder is only the latest in an epidemic that is escalating out of control worldwide. In that context, I have to question why her murder is deemed more newsworthy than any of the other of my sisters, and why the hundreds of others remain unreported and unremarked.
Previous related posts:
- Trans Murder Monitoring Project: 333 cases of reported murders of trans people in the last 2 years (March 17, 2010)
- 11th International Transgender Day Of Remembrance, 20th November 2009 (November 20, 2009)
- TGEU press release: More than 160 murders of trans people in the last 12 months (November 19, 2009)
- Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008 (November 20, 2008)
- Every third day the murder of a trans person is reported (July 21, 2009)