Colorado Springs police praised for using correct 'pronouns' to identify Club Q shooting victims

'We will be identifying the victims by how they identified themselves and how their families have loved and identified them,' said a Colorado Springs city spokesperson

Colorado Springs police praised for using correct 'pronouns' to identify Club Q shooting victims
Raymond Green Vance: He/Him, Derrick Rump: He/Him, Daniel Aston: He/Him, Kelly Loving: She/Her and Ashley Paugh: She/Her were identified by Colorado police (Colorado Springs Police Department/Facebook)
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COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO: Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez respectfully announced the names of the five people who had been shot to death inside the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs during a press conference. The police had been lauded for ensuring that each of the five victims' corrct pronouns on the department's official Facebook page.

According to a Colorado Springs city spokeswoman who spoke to USA Today, authorities took the unusual but purposeful step of spending time validating the right names and pronouns of the victims by speaking to their families as opposed to just relying on what the coroner's office provided. "We respect all of our community members, including our LGBTQ community," Vasquez said, adding, "Therefore, we will be identifying the victims by how they identified themselves and how their families have loved and identified them." He reads their names as follows, “Kelly Loving; Pronouns are ‘she/her;’ Daniel Aston; Pronouns are ‘he/him;’ Derrick Rump; Pronouns are ‘he/him;’ Ashley Paugh; Pronouns are ‘she/her;’ Raymond Green Vance; Pronouns are ‘he/him’.” Replying to their Facebook post, a user wrote. “I really appreciate that you used the correct names and pronouns for each of these beautiful humans.” Other users replied with broken heart emojis and prayers for the fallen victims.

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Posted by Colorado Springs Police Department on Monday, November 21, 2022

 

GLAAD's senior communications director Tony Morrison, who is presently in Colorado Springs, told USA TODAY that the group carefully collaborated with the police department "to ensure that the names released will be the names they go by and respectful of the gender-expansive community here."

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The strategy was confirmed by the Colorado Springs Police Department's Jason Newton, a community relations sergeant. “We do take our time to ensure that all families have been notified and have a chance to get proper support systems in place before their loved ones’ names and photos go out publicly," Newton told USA TODAY in a statement after the victims' names were released. "We always delay to ensure the victims and their families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Dr Jason Lambrese, a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic, describes the practice of calling someone by a name they don't want as "deadnaming," especially in the transgender community. “A transgender person may decide to no longer use their birth or legal name. Instead, they’ll choose a name that better aligns with identity,” said Lambrese in a published piece on the topic in 2021. “The person who they once were is dead, but the new person is alive, so their current name should be used.”

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The news was received with relief by Olivia Hunt, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality. She finds it encouraging that the police are not using the victims' official names or those listed on their birth certificates, but rather the names that they go by. “It is refreshing to hear that they are taking the time to make sure they're known by the correct names and pronouns,” Hunt said. “Otherwise, it’s being even more disrespectful in death as they are by some in life.”

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The owner of TransLash Media, Imara Jones, sided with Hunt after being surprised by the efforts of the officials. “A wonderful and welcomed surprise, but it is also a shame because this is a no-brainer,” Jones said. “This should be the norm, without exception. If we want to show respect for the dead, we should go by the name they used in their lives. It’s not that complicated.”

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