A trans woman was found dead in Orlando yesterday (19 July), and then the media misgendered her.
The body of Sasha Garden was found in the parking lot of an apartment complex at around 5am.
The naked body had signs of trauma.
She was only 27.
Trans woman found murdered in Orlando
Passersby called 911 after seeing the body, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
The office misgendered her first. They originally said the victim was a ‘man wearing a wig’.
‘When I walked in this morning, I was, like, here we go again,’ said the complex’s maintenance manager, who asked to not be identified. ‘Nobody wants to see that. Nobody wants to see a dead body.’
Investigators said they don’t believe Garden lived at the apartment complex.
Montrese Williams, who was Garden’s friend, told Channel 9 the two first met a couple years ago. Trans sex workers often come to her house for help.
‘I let her know about a trans empowerment group that I was having. That was our … first real interaction,’ she said. ‘She was a firecracker.’
Garden sometimes engaged in sex work. She was arrested for prostitution in 2016.
Williams said she was working on her dream of becoming a hairdresser.
‘She used to always talk about that,’ Williams said. ‘She let me know this wasn’t her life — working the streets.’
Officers say there are no suspects yet in the case.
Williams added: ‘Sasha was a good person.’
Police ‘disrespectful’ to trans friends of victim
Speaking to the Orlando Weekly, Williams said police were very disrespectful. They deputies came to her house around 7.30am for her help.
Williams said: As soon as I opened the door, I get, “I hear a bunch of transvestites stay here.”
Montrese Williams says she corrected the deputies’ terminology and after identifying Garden’s from a photo of her body, made sure to tell deputies her name was ‘Sasha’ and that she was a trans woman.
‘[The deputy] acted like he couldn’t even pronounce transgender,’ she said.
Following the report from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, TV stations followed with transphobic headlines.
While Garden’s friends, tried to call the stations, asking them to issue a correction, they initially declined.
WESH and WFTV said they only report what the police gave them.
Misgendered by the media
QLatinx, a LGBTI rights group, described the reporting as a ‘desecration of her memory’.
‘The news of the passing of our beloved sister from the community, Sasha, is one of absolute heartbreak and tragedy,’ the statement said.
‘We hold her spirit and those of her loved ones in our hearts.
They added: ‘We are equally heartbroken by the flagrant disrespect and desecration of her memory by the media that has chosen to dishonor and misgender her in their reporting.
‘We are calling for our media partners to be more reflective of their practices, issue an apology for their coverage, and commit to improving their efforts for authentically reporting the stories of our beloved transgender and gender non-conforming communities.’
WESH, WFTV and OCSO have finally updated their stories.