New York: woman murdered for being a woman

April 2, 2010

Undated photo of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar (L) who was found dead at 69-30 62nd Street in Queens. She is pictured with her friend Barbara Vega on the right. Credit: Michael J. FeeneyHospital 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.


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12 Responses to “New York: woman murdered for being a woman”

  1. Depresso Says:

    What she was wearing? If I had been drinking coffee, I’d need a new keyboard now.

    What she was wearing? Like a low-cut top or whatever now excuses murder, just the same as rape?

    The family of Ms. Gonzalez-Andujar are in my thoughts.

  2. Helen G Says:

    Many of the reports quote her friend Barbara Vega as saying “We found her on her bed. She was naked” but City News blog tells us that “her body was found lying face down on her bed, naked except for a bra”.

  3. depresso Says:

    Ah. *scratches head*

    Coz the readers need to know these things or something? Never mind that a woman is dead and her family and friends are grieving…

  4. Helen G Says:

    I think there are a couple of almost subliminal, yet highly discriminatory, tropes at play – “Naked trans woman”+”bed” = “sex worker” (because, it’s a fact universally acknowledged that all trans women are sex workers, even when we’re not), and “Trans woman”+”bra” is a trans-misogynistic sideswipe at trans women’s expressions of femaleness or feminity.

  5. Depresso Says:

    Yeah, the prurient interest in her clothedness when found feels dehumanizing. You know; it’s the kind of detail that would be mentioned in a crime novel, when the troubled forensic pathologist appraises the scene. In a newspaper’s blog? This is a real woman with a life and value and meaning and people who care about her.

    And her being established as ‘gainfully’ employed (I mean, established as having a socially acceptable, non-sex-related job) from the outset is kind of relieving because we all *know* that there would be allegations if not outright statements that implied she was a sex worker, otherwise. It’s almost like the journalists are pissed off at her not fitting the standard trope of their murdered trans women, so have to slip a dig in somehow.

  6. […] New York Woman Murdered For Being a Woman – Bird of Paradox accounts a tragic case where NYT didn’t report nearly as well. […]

  7. Anon Says:

    Have you e-mailed the reporters and the city desk editors with those statistic sites? That could help your cause. The police and their stats are probably the first place the reporter goes, if the police aren’t reporting on the murders of trans women, then that reporter isn’t going to get the stats you refer to, so take the opportunity to inform them.

  8. Adam Says:

    Thank you for posting this. It is the first article I’ve been able to find on this murder without mention of the victim’s legal birth name (which is irrelevant to the incident).

  9. […] Some people have been criticizing the newspaper as “perhaps the worst culprit” in the media confusion that followed Edelbuerto Gonzalez-Andujar’s murder. Sure, they could’ve done some better reporting, but I find it hard to believe that they were “the worst.” […]

  10. […] New York Times’ coverage of a woman killed in an act of domestic violence falls into some sadly familiar patterns such as misgendering, transmisogyny, and unnecessarily […]

  11. […] From Legible Susan: More on the murder of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar. […]

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