On May 12, 2012, the New York Times reported on Lorena Escalera’s death in the midst of a fire in Brooklyn apartment. It was a highly problematic and glaringly dehumanizing article that focused on her body, her alleged sex work profession, her sexuality and much more. GLAAD organized a meeting with some editors of the Times - a meeting they only agreed to after being publicly called out for writing another dehumanizing piece on trans and queer youth of color on Christopher Street. But that’s besides the point.
Nearly a year after Lorena’s death, her family, friends, activists and community members have rallied around Lorena, whose death was surrounded by sketchy details, yet was not investigated by NYPD. Those who knew and love Lorena are seeking justice.
Here are a few ways YOU can help. Please complete at least one of these action items in solidarity with the grassroots efforts being organized for beloved Lorena:
1. Write a message about Lorena to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz via:
Twitter: @MartyMarkowitz (suggest hashtags: #LorenaEscalera #TWoC #girlslikeus)
Mail: Brooklyn Borough Hall | 209 Joralemon Street | Brooklyn, New York 11201
I post this message in solidarity with Lorena, with Cemia Acoff, with Brandy Martell, with Paige Clay and with thousands of other trans women of color, whose lives have not warranted those who are charged with “protecting us” to utilize their resources to seek justice.
Video, June 2, 2012: In which I channel my anger to call out the dehumanizing, victim-blaming NYT article about Lorena’s death
With my recent media critiques of the New York Times, I’ll probably never reach my goal of getting Michiko to read my memoir. But our living history is so much bigger than the personal dreams I have for myself. I urge us to mine the anger and frustration and disappointment into creativity and expression. Don’t let the New York Times (as evidence in their portraits of Lorena Escalera and the women of Christopher Street) stand as the record of our lives: Trans women are so much more than the less-than-human portraits they continue paint of us.
I took the stage at the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco on Saturday to educate the LGBT and our allied communities of the injustices that trans women - especially those of color - face. Here, I call for the New York Times to restore Lorena Escalera’s dignity after the publishing of their demeaning article.
In a time, where a case like CeCe McDonald’s warrants barely any mainstream mention, it’s essential that we push back when the media gets us and our stories wrong. We will not take crumbs. We deserve to be seen whole.