Friday, 29 October 2010

Sonia Burgess/David Burgess: Identity Crises

'Tributes for tube death lawyer'
"Human rights specialist Sonia Burgess, known professionally as David, was killed by a train at King's Cross station," The Guardian reports.
A woman has been charged with murder.
"Tributes have been paid to a "trailblazing" human rights lawyer who died after falling under a tube train.
"Sonia Burgess, 63, known professionally by her legal name David, was struck by a train at King's Cross station during the evening rush hour on Monday."
This was taken from the Press Association story - the PA had foregrounded Burgess being talented, over being trans; 'Tributes to "trailblazing" Tube murder lawyer'
Other papers did the reverse - and struggled to find the right word.
The Sun in a story headed 'Tube death man was a lawyer called "Sonia"', called Burgess a "transvestite".
They used the above two photos side-by-side, captioned; "Two identities... Sonia and David"
Things are confused by the fact that the family knew her as Sonia - as shown in their statement - but Burgess was still working as David.
A situation most newspapers' style guides won't cover.*
In The Mirror Burgess was a "cross-dresser" - "Although legally a man, his family called him Sonia and were fully aware, as were his work colleagues, of his two identities."
Initially Burgess had been described by the Mirror online as "a cross-dressing man".
The Daily Mail chose "transgender" - "It is not clear whether he was undergoing medical treatment to become a woman."
The Times went for the unwieldy, "a transgender person".
In The Express and The Telegraph Burgess was a "transvestite".
The ever pompous Telegraph put the word in inverted commas - or "scare quotes" as they're known in the trade.
The paper added; "Police say he is officially referred to as "cross gender" or "gender variant".

* Trans Media Watch has Guidance for the Media online. It would have been best to use the umbrella term transgender - or simply trans.

1 comment:

  1. Today's Evening Standard...

    'Tube Death Man Lived Secret Life As A Transsexual Escort Called Sonia'