The transgender flag was flying high above City Hall Wednesday afternoon for a rally in support of Cemia "Ce Ce" Dove, the transgender woman brutally murdered and recovered in an Olmsted Township pond on April 17.
Jacob Nash, the founder and president of a transgender homeless shelter, served as emcee. Various spokespeople for religious organizations, LGBT groups, and the transgender community took a turn at the microphone — which, regrettably, wasn't quite powerful enough to overcome the traffic on Lakeside.
The audio issues didn't stop Councilman Joe Cimperman from giving a rousing address. After Karen Butler, Cleveland's director of public health, said a few words about ensuring the safety and rights of all people, Cimperman took over. His remarks, dynamic and articulate, encouraged activism and awareness to prevent tragic events like what happened to Ce Ce from happening again.
The crowd was small but powerful. Several people brought signs condemning the mainstream media's coverage of the murder and advocating Revolution.
Oddly enough, the long overdue conversations that people are having in the wake of Ce Ce's murder may be the most revolutionary of all: conversations not only about media coverage of transgender issues but about public perception and social stigma.
Still, the media continues to represent a sort of gateway and axis for public discourse and its coverage of formerly taboo issues need to be more thoroughly examined and discussed. (Though no one wants to read news stories about news stories about still other news stories, it's important we understand our shortcomings.)
Here's one alarming example about the Ce Ce murder coverage from the Washington Blade's article:
No report would lead readers to believe police are working diligently to find the murderer,” said David Badash in the New Civil Rights Movement blog. “Not one report stated police are asking for assistance or seeking help in finding her killer,” he said.
That's extremely distressing. Especially because, though being transgendered shouldn't be a sensationalized tidbit when it comes to covering a given person in everyday life, it is one of the most crucial pieces of information when covering a crime. A victim's identity can substantively change the nature of the crime itself. This is obvious, of course. A grisly murder becomes a grisly hate crime.
The Washington Blade story quoted police in Olmsted Township who said that they were, in fact, working diligently to solve the case.
The reality is that covering these issues is extremely difficult for many journalists. It's not that we're all callous or even ignorant of the issues. Often, it's that the territories and terminologies tend to be mutable and fairly new. Even the AP guidelines which we referenced yesterday aren't universally applicable.
That's why continuing the conversation is so essential. (Feel free to post links or chime in in the Comments section below.)