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Tomb of the Unknown Transgender

| Feb 20, 2008
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In Detroit recently, police found the body of a man in female attire, in a vacant lot. He had been shot in the head. So far, police have not released the name of the victim, at the request of the family. Now, the head of the National Center for Transgender Equality has joined area media outlets in protesting this lack of information.

I, for one, am not sure of the benefit of having the name released.

Outing is a practice I’ve long railed against. When you take someone who is in the closet, and suddenly expose their secret life, you’re presenting to the public someone who is not comfortable in that sudden limelight. They’re probably not going to present the best image to the public.

The only person who seems to benefit from outing is Pervez Hilton*.

So, if someone is dead, what do they have to lose by being outed? Well, not much. They’re dead. But their family remains. And their family now has to deal with the loss, and the sudden revelation that they maybe didn’t know their loved one quite as well as they thought. And if thrusting someone into that situation wasn’t bad enough, there’s the ever-present media circus.

Can you imagine losing your father/brother/son to homicide, only to turn around to find a microphone stuck in your face with a bubble-headed bleach blonde asking you “how does it feel?”?

This family, whoever they are, deserves privacy. If they want to come forward, and condemn the murder of their loved one, so be it. And if they want to appear at the next Transgender Day of Remembrance, adding their voices to the cause, even better. But they should not have to go through the double strain of loss and exposure.

I cannot see how releasing the victim’s name benefits anyone. We all know it’s dangerous out there for transgendered people. I’m sure people who knew the victim directly can guess why they are not showing up at their usual haunts.

And for the rest of us? We didn’t know the deceased. Our sense of loss is not diminished by not having a name to go with the number we add to our list of those murdered.

* I know his name is Perez, but Pervez is the name of the Pakistan dictator. Perez/Pervez. Get it? Oh, never mind.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Ronnie Rho has been writing for Transgender Forum since May of 1999. One of these days, she'll get it right. She's been described as the "world's most famous recluse," but only by people who don't know her very well. She is unmarried, and lives in Cincinnati.

Comments (3)

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  1. says:

    Angela, your idea is great as long as that was the desire of the person who passed. Maybe the Forum could have an obituary or medical report section to notify members of the forum. It’s a start.

  2. angela_g angela_g says:

    Actually, the cool thing would be if the person’s femme name could be released to the public. Often people disappear from the TG community and since their femme name does not appear in an obituary we don’t know that they passed away. This person could have been in the closet to some (like family or co-workers) and very public to a lot of others who cared about her as her femme self. Unless she shared her male identity with them they will always wonder what happened to her.

  3. says:

    Ronnie, you are so right. Family secrets should stay family secrets, not public information for a cheap quick trill. To release the name of this individual would not at all help the family, only up the rating of an uncaring media reporter. Who next week will not be able to recall the name, but the family would have the unneeded burden of everyone knowing. You ever this person was I can only hope that his end wasn’t because of his secret. My sympathy goes out to the family.

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