Making Pronoun Choices for the Dead

RECEIVED Wed., Feb. 4, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Thank you for the thorough report you published regarding Tesía Samara's death ("The Death of Ben Brownlee" News, Jan. 30). Many transgendered youth around the nation suffer tremendously due to peer pressure and assaults, and I hope your story brings some tolerance and awareness in other school districts.
   I am writing to ask respectfully that any future stories on Tesía use her chosen, if not legal, name, and refer to her in her chosen gender. She is dead, and it does no one any good to disrespect the choices she made in life by using her old name and pronoun, even if that is how her friends and family relate to her. Many families of transpeople, including my own, never fully accept their children's new name and gender.
   As well, the Associated Press stylebook recommends, under "sex changes" in the 2000 edition, "Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics (by hormone therapy, body modification, or surgery) of the opposite sex and present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly."
   As Tesía was taking hormones, she falls directly under this category.
   Once again, I am grateful that you have published Tesía's story.
Regards,
Alicia Goranson
Franklin, Mass.
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