The Milwaukee Police Department will no longer immediately report a crime victim’s gender or race in response to allegations from LGBT advocates that the department “misgendered” individuals who identify as transgender in media releases.
Members of Diverse and Resilient, a local LGBT advocacy group, worked with the MPD’s LGBT liaison to develop the policy change. Proponents of transgenderism claim that “misgendering” or “deadnaming” (using an individual’s birth name instead of the alternative name he or she chose after transitioning) is considered violence.
According to a Monday report by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Heather Hough, MPD chief of staff, announced the decision last Wednesday, confirming the next day that the policy change was a result of the department’s discussions with the LGBT community.
“It’s a way to preserve the dignity and privacy of all victims,” Hough said about the new policy. “MPD wants to ensure the best service possible for our entire community.”
Some, including Greg Borowski, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor, worry that the change will impede journalists’ ability to “provide a full picture of what is happening in [the] community” regarding crime. While he said he supports the goal of not “misgendering” victims, Borowski does not believe creating “barriers” between the public and information is the right solution.
“At the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, we take great care to report stories about crime and public safety with context and sensitivity. To do this, we need to be able to identify trends and provide a full picture of what is happening in our community,” he said.
Bill Lueders, president of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, also criticized the policy, calling it a “terrible idea.”
“Does the public really not have a right to know if minorities, for instance, are disproportionately victims of crime?” Lueders asked in a statement to the outlet. “Does it not have the right to know if people are being killed because of their gender?”
The Milwaukee Police Department and Diverse and Resilient did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment.
The chief of staff clarified that the policy will only impact information that the department releases to the public via media releases and that community members or reporters can still file an open records request if they wish to access more detailed information. However, as the Sentinel noted, filing and receiving information through a public records request can take time.
Justin Roby, Diverse and Resilient’s director of finance and human resources, also defended the department’s new approach to releasing information, claiming that the loved ones of a murdered trans individual would likely already know their friend or relative is dead.
According to Roby, data collection on homicides against trans people is already underreported, and law enforcement databases typically don’t identify the deceased as trans.
“I have listened to countless trans sisters worry about how they will be identified upon their death,” Roby said in a statement to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That’s harm, that’s trauma. They are worried that, after all of the work that they’ve done to accept themselves … at their death, they’ll be disrespected.”
The push for MPD to change its crime victim reporting policy came after three black men who identified as female were killed in the city last year. The department’s press release stated that the victims were male, a fact media outlets later included in their reporting, according to The Sentinel.
Following the mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, some media outlets took issue with the police reporting that the shooter was female.
Audrey Hale, 28, a woman who identified as male, killed six people, including three children, on the day of the shooting. Police eventually killed Hale on the second floor of the school building.
The New York Times later wrote in a March 27 post on X that there was “confusion” about the gender of the Nashville shooter, stating that officials had referred to Hale using “she” and “her” pronouns. On the same day, USA Today also stated on X that the police had “misidentified” the identity of the shooter.
As CP previously reported in March, a memo obtained at the time by The New York Post showed that CBS News executives instructed reporters to avoid mentioning the Nashville shooter’s gender identity. According to the document, because legacy media outlets had not yet confirmed Hale’s gender identity, executives asked staffers to “avoid any mention of it as it has no known relevance to the crime. Should that change, we can and will revisit.”
Free Religious Freedom Updates
Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.