Maplewood Homicide Victim Was Transgendered, Former CHS Student

Prosecutor's Office release changed identity for victim.

Update: On October 21, 2010, the Essex County Prosecutor announced that two suspects had been identified in the homicide of Victoria Carmen White. A search is underway and warrants have been issued for their arrests. See the full Patch story here. Pertinent to the story below, Katherine Carter of the ECPO also revealed the reason for this mis-identification of Ms. White at the time of the homicide. Ms. Carter said, "We got the name from a family member who originally identified her as James White."

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office reported today that the victim of a fatal shooting in Maplewood on Sunday was Victoria Carmen White, formerly James White. White had legally changed her name to Victoria Carmen following sex reassignment surgery.

The Prosecutor's Office and Maplewood Police had originally identified the victim as James White. However, as stated in a release from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office this afternoon: "Following an examination by the Medical Examiner and further investigation, it has been confirmed that the victim was a post-operative transgender female having undergone sex reassignment surgery."

The Prosecutor's Office and Maplewood Police reported yesterday that White, 28, of Newark, was fatally shot at a private residence located at 159 Jacoby Street in Maplewood on Sunday morning.

Police were called to the address at 5 a.m. yesterday. White was pronounced dead at the scene, an apartment building at the corner of Jacoby Street and Boyden Avenue.

Friends and former classmates also report that White was a former Maplewood resident who attended Columbia High School where she participated in Special Dance and cheerleading. White was a member of the Class of 2001, but did not graduate at CHS.

Becky September 14, 2010 at 08:55 PM
Why in the world would you even report this? Is this really sufficiently newsworthy to be worth trashing the memory of a beautiful and vibrant young soul who was senselessly killed at such a young age? Is it your policy to report on the private medical information of murder victims when it has no apparent relevance to the story???
Mary Mann September 14, 2010 at 09:03 PM
We are just reporting facts. It is news when the Essex County Prosecutor's Office changes the name and gender identification for a homicide victim. The medical examiner's report is not private; it is public.
sean September 15, 2010 at 12:33 PM
Depending on the jurisdiction, the determination of a decedent's gender is determined by a Medical Examiner's office or a Coroner's office. A Coroner may not have a medical background. In many jurisdictions there is no definitive standard for assigning gender for a decedent. The gender label may therefore be determined in some offices by genitalia, birth certificate assignation, or drivers license assignation.
Shay September 15, 2010 at 09:41 PM
You guys didn't have to state weather he graduated or not that has nothing to do with the crime that took place. Some details can be left out..you do have the public reading this you know. Have some concideration for the deceased and their family along with friends!
lita September 16, 2010 at 12:58 AM
Veronica Peralta September 16, 2010 at 01:42 AM
Beautiful woman, condolences to the family who must be devastated by the loss of someone so young.
Mary Mann September 16, 2010 at 03:43 PM
Thank you, everyone, for your comments. Please remember to keep the comments respectful. We did need to delete one comment because of profanity. We invite the commenter to post again without the use of profanity.
Lailah Lancing September 16, 2010 at 08:02 PM
As a transgendered female myself, the fact that you felt the need to print her birth name (after it had been changed) was totally inappropriate. I understand it's public record, but then leave that up to people who want to delve deeper into the story to find that out for themselves. Printing her pre-transition photo was also in poor taste, as well as the fact that she was a non graduate. As Transgendered individuals society sees us as not having the same rights that every person is entitled. This is a disgusting and all too common fact. Ms. Mann you should be ashamed of yourself for being so flagrant, disregarding the life of a person for sensationalism. You are not a true journalist or by any means a compassionate individual. You should consider a career change, I hear the National Enquirer is hiring. You may be more suited to write for them.
Suzzet Paullet Pleshette September 18, 2010 at 02:12 AM
If I were killed I would want my story told. Was this a hate crime? Was prejudice part of it. Did she come out to a boyfriend? Or was it someone who she went to school with? The fact that she did not graduate at the other school could be very relevant. Someone memory may be jogged be this. (Oh yeah she did transfer schools and she dated so & so at the other school. And she didn't graduate that year) And that could be a time line and place fact. I would want all the facts released in order to convict my killer. I guess it is all in your point of view.
Laina September 20, 2010 at 10:34 PM
I knew James in middle school and high school. I did not know him after the surgery and I did not know that he did not graduate from Columbia because I was older. If not for the earlier photograph, I would not have known who this article was referring to. Birth name should be printed, pre-transition photo should be printed, all details available should be printed. These inclusions have no bearing on respect for the individual. They are a necessary element in a news report, and certainly not in poor taste. I do think readers need to know more details about the crime.
BlackSwan October 04, 2010 at 12:48 AM
Outing a member of the GLBT appears to be against journalistic ethics. See GLAAD Media Guidelines. Now if the it is done posthumously is another questions all together. If this is the case the reporter was just publishing the facts as came from the coroners office. Did the coroner have the right to out Victoria Carmen White? IMHO: Titillation and Bigotry do not equal facts. "If it bleeds it leads" doesn't give a reporter any moral high ground to report either.
Autumn Sandeen October 04, 2010 at 01:53 AM
I'm going to agree with most of the commenters regarding the article regarding the misgendering of the crime victim, and listing of the old male name. I would also add that the journalism "industry standards" regarding transgender people weren't adhered to. From the Associated Press (2006): "Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or 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." From the New York Times (2005): "Transgender is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person's transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly." (cont.)
BlackSwan October 04, 2010 at 02:10 AM
I generally disagree with the “transgender” umbrella term coined by the GLAAD Media Guide and Autumn‘s view, however I do agree that this is a medical issue with the same rights and privileges thereof. The deceased in this instance was a woman of transsexual history and it was her history to disclose and no one else. This is what keeps journalist from pocking into the medical histories of individuals with or without justification the medical information is held in privilege by the individual with the condition and they can only release that privilege. Being a journalist doesn’t grant a license to usurp an individuals medical right to privacy posthumously. The privileged was not released by the deceased in this case therefore Mary Mann has crossed the line a bit with titillating the story. But I’m speaking generally to the nature of this story--her gender appear irrelevant to the story. Victoria was a pretty girl in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can’t comment without enough fact to call this a hate crime. If the coroners record was sealed however she would have violated journalistic ethics. However, the coroners record is a public record and, unfortunately as in bad taste as this article is, the onus is on the coroners office for disclosure not Mary Mann.,
Autumn Sandeen October 04, 2010 at 02:16 AM
(cont. from above) From the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Reference Guide: "Sex Reassignment: Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition . Preferred term to 'sex change operation.' Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the role of SRS in the transition process." And.. "Problematic: 'sex change,' 'pre-operative,' 'post-operative' "Preferred: 'transition' Referring to a sex change operation, or using terms such as pre- or post-operative, inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition." Most of us are aware that reporters get information from police -- often police spokespeople use terminology that doesn't conform to journalism stylebooks -- the "industry standards" for journalists. This doesn't relieve reporters of the duty of checking the facts of what they're told by the police; this doesn't relieve reporters of the need to familiarize themselves with journalism standards regarding people in minority groups. If the Maplewood Patch doesn't have a "transgender" entry in their styleguide, they should consider adding one now. This article will likely have follow-ups, and recognized journalism standards regarding transgender people and community should be adopted. To do less is to show disrespect for crime victims like Victoria.
BlackSwan October 04, 2010 at 02:31 AM
I personally don't want to see this issue hi-jacked the transgender prime directive. Which usurps: The sexual binary divides at the physical possession of penis or a vagina. A pole or a hole. Males have penises, females have vaginas. It’s the physical universe’s rule of thumb. Affordability and poverty isn't the issue in this matter. Victoria was a woman not some half-way house of gender transition to be barnacled by the LGBT Inc. agenda.
BlackSwan October 04, 2010 at 02:43 AM
Furthermore, the "Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Reference Guide:" IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC NOR MEDICAL AUTHORITY and is not the authority on Gender Transformation and should be viewed only in the narrow area of journalistic and media issues. At best GLAAD is a media watch dog and lobby organization for LGBT groups and their political agenda.
Mary Mann October 04, 2010 at 05:19 AM
Only female pronouns—"she" and "her"—are used to refer to Ms. White in this article. Her previous name and gender status are newsworthy to the many people in this community who knew her throughout her life and went to school with her in South Orange, at South Orange Middle School and at Columbia High School. If we referred to her as a former student at Columbia High without giving her former name, it would cause confusion (as well as be inaccurate). There is no record of a Victoria White in the CHS class of 2001. All journalistic standards were adhered to in this reporting. You may also want to contact The Star-Ledger, Baristanet and the News-Record if you find that factual reporting of this case should include misrepresenting a victim's past.
BlackSwan October 06, 2010 at 08:33 PM
The reason I call Ms Mann on it is the nature of primacy and the spine of your story when you omit the term ‘Female’ from the Headlines “Maplewood Homicide Victim Was Transgendered, Former CHS Student” She ceases to be a female and the scarlet letter “T” is branded permanently to the minds of the reader and to her legacy forever. You are going out of your way to make sure the reader knows this. NOOOoooo you don’t report anything about her real life other than a quant “Special Dance and Cheerleader” In your simple journalistic mind you wouldn’t have a story unless you titillated it by branding Victoria in such a way--its so obvious. Nothing about her having a boyfriend. Nothing about her accomplishments or awards. Nothing about her family. Nothing about those that loved her and missed her. Nothing about college or career aspirations. Nothing about how beautiful she was. Just sex-change. NOOOOOoooo her greatest accomplishment in your mind is that she underwent “sex-reassignment surgery.” Only female pronouns??? Adding TS or TG, hyphenated to her name, diminishes the value of “she” and “her” by the way Ms Mann reports it? By derivation it has a common understanding of “less than” or “not born as” female. All your story has done was put a blight on the memory of Victory Carmen White. Why can’t the GLAAD Media Reference Guide make this simple distinction to prevent Mary Mann from writing this kind of screed?
Mary Mann October 06, 2010 at 08:53 PM
BlackSwan, I think you have failed to read all our other coverage of Ms. White's homicide.
Dottie Hinson October 07, 2010 at 03:33 PM
Hello Mary, stating Victoria was a post-operative transsexual may indeed be a fact, but it is an irrelevant one - no more pertinent than a fractured leg incurred in a childhood bicycle accident and just as easily determined during autopsy. Just because something is public record doesn't make it newsworthy - property ownership, professional licensing, etc..., yet all that was reported the 'name change'. As a member of the press it is certainly your right to report on what you choose, just as it is our right to consider you a bottom feeder for stoking the fires of prejudice and hatred by implying this womans murder is somehow justified because of her medical history.
Lynn McGlotten October 22, 2010 at 09:20 AM
I also new Victoria before her surgery and would not have known who the person was without mention of her previous life. I understand why many would not want it mentioned, but it needs to be mentioned for the people who knew her before and still cared about her.
Anonymous January 23, 2011 at 01:20 AM
I knew James before she became Victoria! Such a beautiful person before and after, my heart is still breaking. I use to have great times with her at lunch at Columbia High School. She will be forever missed. You fly with the angels now beautiful.


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