Concern Over Pronoun Choice

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 3, 2004

Dear Editor,
   I would like to both thank you and chide you for your article published in today's Chronicle about Tesía Samara ["The Death of Ben Brownlee," News, Jan. 30]. The piece was detailed and truly outlined some of the horrors that face transgendered youth in this country, but you declined to do one thing that would have added a little respect. Constantly referring to her as "Ben" and using male pronouns are not only disrespectful, but I believe further exasperates the problem that confronts all transgendered people of all ages. Reporting this by using the name Tesía, as she obviously would have preferred, would have given her short life a little more meaning. I would hope that in the future you would seek out the advice of local or national transgender organizations or, at the very least, on any GLBT related story, check with GLAAD before publishing.
Lisa Scheps
Transgender Advocates of Central Texas
   [News Editor Michael King responds: "The Death of Ben Brownlee," by Jordan Smith, is a story about a 15-year-old youth just discovering and creating his/her own identity, as well as about the people who knew and loved Ben/Tesía every day and who themselves were making a journey of understanding. The quotations in the story are in the voices of the people who spoke them. The writer and editors made the decisions on writing this story, in this way, for this particular group of people. A different story about a different person in different circumstances would obviously require its own judgments, and we would make those decisions based on the story and the people involved.]
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