Gale Rumor Untrue

Speculation about cause of death lead to inaccurate accusations about shelter provision

Jennifer Gale
Jennifer Gale (Photo by Alan Pogue)

In the wake of the untimely death of perennial City Council candidate and gadfly Jennifer Gale, public sympathy with her homelessness – she died, of yet unconfirmed causes, while sleeping outside Wednesday night, Dec. 18 – has led to misleading speculation about the circumstances of her death.

A Burnt Orange Report blog posting by Karl-Thomas Musselman quoted an email from Marti Bier (aide to City Council Member Randi Shade) describing Gale as a "trans[gender] woman living in a transphobic society," and therefore with "nowhere … to go to protect herself from the cold [last] night."

Bier's sympathetic rumor had become conventional wisdom by Thursday's Council meeting, and a subsequent press release by Equality Texas was headlined in part, "Her death can be directly attributed to lack of shelters accepting of transgender homeless."

In fact, a somewhat embarrassed Bier says now, that's not true. She says she had confused a story she'd heard about another transgender woman's bad experience at a local shelter with Gale, and that she has since contacted both the Salvation Army and the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, and learned that both shelters do what they can to accommodate all homeless people, regardless of gender status although they do have to adjust accommodations to particular circumstances. "I think I was trying to call attention to the problem of trans women accessing services," Bier said.

Although we're still inquiring, there is in fact currently no evidence that Gale was ever refused shelter, or indeed that she had ever requested it.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jennifer Gale
Wynn Speaks on Gale Death
Wynn Speaks on Gale Death
Encourages donations to House the Homeless' thermal drive

Wells Dunbar, Dec. 18, 2008

Council Comments on Gale Death
Council Comments on Gale Death
CMs Leffingwell, Martinez weigh in on Jennifer Gale's passing

Wells Dunbar, Dec. 17, 2008

More Randi Shade
TDH: 6/24/11
TDH: 6/24/11
Formula One returns to a reshaped dais

Wells Dunbar, June 24, 2011

TDH: 6/20/11
TDH: 6/20/11
Final (for now) Place 3 thoughts

Wells Dunbar, June 20, 2011

More by Michael King
Point Austin: Vouchers, Borders, and Critical (White) Race Theory
Point Austin: Vouchers, Borders, and Critical (White) Race Theory
Gov. Abbott does his damnedest to block the Texas future

Nov. 21, 2023

The Exquisite Torments of Ken Paxton
The Exquisite Torments of Ken Paxton
Why is everybody so mean to the Texas Attorney General?

Sept. 18, 2023


Jennifer Gale, Randi Shade, Equality Texas, Salvation Army, Austin Resource Center for the Homeless

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle