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Eyricka Morgan reports are tragic

Eyricka Morgan is a name you may not be familiar with, but you should be. It belongs to a transgender Rutgers alumna who was murdered last week.

Eyricka Morgan was allegedly stabbed to death by a man who lived in her New Brunswick boarding house. Eyricka Morgan, born with the name Evan, had been living her life as a woman for several years. Eyricka Morgan experienced a lot of adversity in her life, as detailed in a quote she gave Rutgers News at a LGBTQ event she participated in two years ago.

Even in her death, Eyricka Morgan faced the adversity of being misgendered in an article regarding her murder by The Star-Ledger — one of the only articles to even report her death. The article published on Sept. 25 refers to Eyricka Morgan as a man and describes her using male gender pronouns. According to the Associated Press Stylebook, which The Daily Targum and many other news publications adhere to strictly, transgendered people must be referred to as their preferred name and sex. But even after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and presumably many readers, reached out to the paper for a correction, the original article remains the same. It is followed by a Sept. 29 article reporting on Eyricka Morgan’s femininity — as if her gender is news.

We are reminded of the aftermath of Chelsea Manning and her eloquent request to be referred to as a she in any articles about her — only to be flagrantly misgendered time and time again.

And, in that way, the reporting of Eyricka Morgan’s death comes to embody our society’s bias against transgendered people resulting in violence against them. When being dismissive of transgendered people’s preferences, something as simple as a preferred gender pronoun is dismissive of the experience of transgendered people as a whole. We don’t regard them as people. And when we don’t regard them as people, members of our society will think it’s acceptable to feel and act upon their disregard — in Eyricka Morgan’s case, extremely violently.

And, violence isn’t new in this context. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 53 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides were of transgender women, and 73 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides were of colored people. That makes transgender women of color the biggest targets of violence out of any other members of the LGBTQ community.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Sheree Pitchford did not originally comment on Eyricka Morgan’s gender in order to protect the family’s privacy. It’s absurd the preferences of another group are placed above those of the transgendered individuals — and why should fear of violence or ostracization from being associated with a transgendered person even be a concern?

The reporter even commented on the Star-Ledger’s Sept. 26 article saying she had difficulty finding any friends of Eyricka Morgan who were willing to step up and speak to the reporter about her gender.

Eyricka Morgan’s story is a tragedy. But what’s even sadder is how her story was treated. With last week’s legalization of same-sex marriage, we hope our community and our state will embrace the changing tide of our society and learn to accept all LGBTQ people for who they are. And, of course, New Jersey media must work towards realizing, rather than undermining, that end.

Correction: A previous version of this article attributed that "53 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides were of transgender women, and 73 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides were of colored people" to a GLAAD report.

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