DAYTON, OH (PM) — Media outlets and police continue to misgender one of the victims of the Dayton shooting, the sibling of the shooter. Friends say the victim being deadnamed was a young transgender man who remained in the closet.
Stories have misidentified the shooter’s sibling as Megan Betts; Splinter News states that his preferred name was Jordan Cofer. Cofer utilized he/him pronouns with friends.
Cofer’s gender identity, at the moment, played no role in his passing during his brother’s murderous rampage that left nine people dead and 27 wounded. His friends state they don’t believe he was out to his brother, the deceased shooter.
Betts was shot and killed by police within 30 seconds after he began shooting in a crowded area near Ned Peppers in Dayton, Ohio.
“Jordan was my closest friend,” an unidentified friend of Cofer’s described to Splinter News. “He identified with he/him pronouns to people he trusted and knew would support him. Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
“Jordan told me in the past that he was not out to his family, but that could have changed in the past month as we barely spoke of the topic recently,” the friend remarked. “I do not believe that his gender identity had played a part in his death because he wasn’t out to many people.”
For some, the news of Cofer’s gender identity doesn’t seem relevant to the story. Splinter News explains their reasoning for discussing Cofer’s gender identity concerning the rampage.
Stories like Cofer’s, featuring a young trans person who was a victim of a devastating and high-profile crime but who appears to have only shared his trans status with a small circle of people, are delicate. People can debate about whether the fact of his gender identity is newsworthy. What is clear, though, is that his friends are free to remember him as they knew him.
The trans community also has a right to account for its dead. There’s been no indication thus far that Cofer’s murder was a transphobic hate crime, but it serves as an important reminder that trans people are more than the transphobia society visits upon them. Everyone who spoke with Splinter for this story felt it was important for his true identity to be accurately reported in the press, without sensationalistic or political sentiments.
A spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality published the following statement about Cofer and his gender identity:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Jordan as well as eight others in this tragic and violent act. Mass gun violence is an epidemic in this country and deserving of swift and immediate action by lawmakers at all levels of government. We join the nation in mourning for every community impacted by gun violence.”
A 2014 study in the journal Self and Identity, asked transgender people about their experiences with being misgendered.
Researchers found that:
- 32.8 percent of participants reported feeling very stigmatized when misgendered.
- Genderqueer folks, and people who had taken fewer steps in the transition process were most likely to be misgendered.
- Those who were misgendered more frequently felt that their identity was very important, but experienced lower self-esteem around their appearance.
- They also had a reduced sense of strength and continuity in their identity.
Outing a trans person is not only discourteous of their boundaries but can also result in that person undergoing harassment and discrimination.