GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and Onslow County, North Carolina LGBTQ+ community center is outraged at JDNews and WNCT News alleging that the newspaper and network misgendered and deadnamed a local homeless transgender woman who was found dead on February 24, 2021.
In an article posted by GLAAD, they accuse the media mentioned above of repeatedly and knowingly misgendering and deadnaming 34-year-old Jenna Franks.
These local media outlets failed to revise their initial reporting when contacted by local LGBTQ+ organizations including Equality North Carolina, Campaign for Southern Equality, GLAAD, and The Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center about the practice, called deadnaming, of using a trans person’s birth name without their permission, GLAAD reported.
We were also contacted by GLAAD about the reporting of Jenna Franks. The North Carolina Beat is an independent media outlet, and our views and opinions are based on our personal views and opinions. (Email We Received Is Below)
We report on the facts of every story, and sometimes that includes the information given by authorities. Local law enforcement is the agency that released the birthname of Jenna Franks. Sadly, some outlets have to report that information as facts, whereas blogs such as The North Carolina Beat have their own options and opinions on how to report something in a police report.
For example, the outlets mentioned above have (they don’t have to but, you get what I am saying) to report what law enforcement gives them. They have to treat that as credible information unless otherwise proven to be false. So, I’m sure they reported the birthname because that’s what was given to them, whereas The North Carolina Beat has the option to report what GLAAD suggests or what the police give us.
Dennis Biancuzzo, Director of Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center told GLAAD:
Jenna Franks lived in Jacksonville North Carolina. She was loved by many people in Jacksonville. She was also a transgender woman. I know these things because Jenna was a client of the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center, one of 8 transgender women found dead so far, this year. But the first thing reported about her by local media was the one thing I never wanted to hear: the deadname she was assigned at birth.
GLAAD said, “revealing a transgender person’s birth name without their explicit permission, a practice called “deadnaming,” is an invasion of privacy that undermines authentic identity, as does using pronouns or gendering that don’t reflect that identity.”
People will always have their opinion and views about something or someone. That’s part of life, and I believe if you see someone with a dick, they are a man, but I also understand the respect part of what GLAAD is saying.
It’s unfortunate that North Carolina’s local media has failed transgender North Carolinians at a time when accuracy and representation are needed the most, said Serena Sonoma, GLAAD’s Communications Coordinator and Regional Media Lead for the U.S. south. What local media outlets will need to realize is that choosing not to respect trans identities opens the community up to discrimination, and potentially more violence. When we correctly identify trans people, we respect their authentic selves and allow space for nuanced discussions about the issues currently facing the community.
Sonoma also said that she believes the media should report on Frank’s life and identity accurately and address the high rates of job and housing insecurity in the trans community.
It starts by reporting on trans people accurately, with names and pronouns that reflect their authentic identity, Sonoma said.
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