Anti-Gay/Trans Murder In Syracuse

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2008

A person identified in news reports as “a gay man who identified as a woman” was shot and killed Friday night in Syracuse.

According to Syracuse police, Dwight R. DeLee, 20, shot and killed Moses “Teish” Cannon Lateisha Green with a .22-caliber rifle Friday night because he didn’t like that she was openly gay. Teish was sitting in a car with her brother Mark Cannon, 18, outside a house where they had been invited to a party.

According to police chief Gary Miguel:

“There was no previous argument between these individuals, there was no previous fight, there was no bad blood,” Miguel said. “Our suspect took a rifle and shot and killed this person, also wounding his brother, for the sole reason he didn’t care for the sexual preference of our victim. Isn’t that sad? Isn’t that a sad situation that that’s the sole reason why?

“I talk to you about this atmosphere of violence and that certain individuals believe that violence is the answer no matter what, and here’s just another example,” Miguel said.

Mark Cannon suffered a non-life-threatening wound in the arm from the same bullet which killed Teish.

Cannon’s family accepted Teish’s sexual orientation and identification as female. Often when family members spoke of Cannon, they used “she”:

“Teish was loving, caring and compassionate,” said Rhonda Gary, Cannon’s aunt. “She carried herself with respect.”

Delee pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder. He is being held without bail. The investigation is continuing to determine if the shooting should be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Update: According to police, Teish was “not dressed as a woman” at the time of the shooting. I don’t know what that is meant to say exactly. I’ve updated the post to be more gender neutral, but I’m still looking for published confirmation as to Teish’s self-identity.

Update (11/20): New reports are emerging (thank you werdna) which are clarifying the situation:

The weekend victim of a brazen murder in Syracuse, N.Y.,  was transgendered, family and friends now tell area media outlets. Police originally had identified the victim as Moses Cannon, 20, and gay. Family members, however, now say Cannon went by the name Latiesha Green and was in the process of transitioning.

WSYR TV is reporting that Teish Green began transitioning at the age of sixteen. These are also the first reports that I’ve seen in which her entire chosen name was given.

Samantha Davis

November 18th, 2008

Calling a trans woman who was just murdered “man” “him” and using her old name? I expect that kind of transphobic language from the AFA, not you. I expected better, a lot better.

Kelly Marie Stephens

November 18th, 2008

Fuck you. Trish Cannon was a woman. No matter whether or not you actually think she was.

As a transwoman myself i find your posting highly offensive.

You are a disgrace to bloggers everywhere and lost all respect i had for you.

Tiffany

November 18th, 2008

Seriously, it’s not okay to refer to a trans woman as a male and use her preferred name as a nickname. I know you’re probably just repeating the way the original articles were written, but the articles wrote the information in very offensive language. Teish deserves to be treated with more respect.

Willie Hewes

November 19th, 2008

Yeah, what gives, Jim? She identified as a woman, her family accepts her as a woman, why are you referring to her as a man?

This is very sad. At least the Police chief seems to get it. Well, maybe.

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2008

I don’t know Teish, and I don’t know exactly how Teish saw herself. As you can see from the news reports yourself, her family accepted her as a woman, but they also sometimes referred to her as “him” as well as “her.”

Teish’s mother said, “That’s the life he chose. That’s who he wanted to be,” yet she also kept photos of Teish as a woman prominently displayed in the home, and gave the photo you see in the post to the local news media. It was precisely this ambiguity from Teish’s mother which gave me pause.

From the material available to me, it is very unclear to me precisely what identity Teish followed. I struggled for a very long time to try to figure out how to best represent Teish. My intent was to try to portray Teish as accurately as I possibly could with what’s available to me.

While I know that many people identify solely as one gender or another, some people experience some fluidity in gender. In fact, I once got a serious yelling by someone who rejected all gender labels, and I also have come to know an acquaintance who is very clear that he is a he sometimes, and a she at other times. Based in these experiences, I will not presume to attach labels to anyone beyond what is presented to me, and so I did not want to preclude the possibility that Teish experienced a similar degree of fluidity.

With the ambiguity of these news reports, it appeared to me that Teish’s identity may have been somewhat fluid as well, since people around her also identified Teish as “gay” with a male lover. Was “gay” also a term Teish used? I can’t tell.

And of course, news reports themselves may be inaccurate. They often are when reporting on transgender people. But right now, they are all I have to go on.

I meant no disrespect whatsoever. In fact, I was motivated to try to provide as much respect as possible. With the material before me, my intent was to represent Teish in the most accurate way possible without imposing labels which weren’t presented to me. I was trying to leave Teish’s identity as open as the material appeared to be.

When I wrote about Angie Zapata, her identity was much more precise, and so my writing reflected that. I will certainly welcome more clarity in Teish’s case. And as that information becomes available, I’ll respond accordingly.

Samantha Davis

November 19th, 2008

Jim,

I don’t find it surprising that her family would refer to her as “him” and use her male name. I know of a lot of trans people who’s parents treat them like that; I wouldn’t expect that behavior to change just because the person died.

Also, the joke is, they probably think of themselves as “accepting” even though they are far from it.

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2008

Update: According to police, Teish was “not dressed as a woman” at the time of the shooting. I don’t know what that is meant to say exactly. I’ve updated the post to be more gender neutral, but I’m still looking for published confirmation as to Teish’s self-identity.

Again, for the reasons I’ve outlined above, I am not going to “read in” an identity when published reports remain ambiguous. I should note that the LGBT press has made the same call I did.

Of course, on the other hand, as we learn more I will revise this post as necessary. But I’ve gotten into too much trouble before in making assumptions on how people chose to identify and express their gender. Where it’s cut and dried, it’s an easy call to make. But I have encountered too many situations personally to know that one can’t always assume that it’s cut and dried. And as I have learned, assuming wrongly can be just as insulting.

SarahG

November 20th, 2008

This GIRL’s name is Latiesha Green. If you had bothered to do a simple fact check and read what the other news agencies in the area are saying (including WSYR TV9), you’d find that this is a MtF Transsexual, NOT a guy, or a gay guy- and the victim’s family has been saying so from the very start. Fact of the matter is that WSYR570AM is the area’s conservative news & talk radio station, most of their programing are shows like Rush… and yet WSYR has no problem referring to this GIRL as Letiesha Green, and has no problem using female pronouns and/or being gender neutral. The ONLY media agency that is avoiding APA guidelines & calling her male, by her legal name (“Moses”) and a “gay guy” is the Syracuse Post Standard- which, I might add, has been well notified by several individuals of their mistake, and nonetheless continues to spew hateful insults towards the Victim and her family.

werdna

November 20th, 2008

This report from WSYR tv does help clarify some of the ambiguity in the coverage. It is made explicit that Latiesha lived a a woman since she was 16 years old and that her family respected and supported her. There is still some slippage in the way her mother, Roxanne Green, describes her, e.g., “my son… my daughter”, but this is likely the result of the enormous grief that they are feeling after this terrible tragedy. It is heart wrenching to hear Latiesha’s mother talking about the loss of her child, the difficulties Latiesha faced as a transsexual woman, and the support and love her family gave her.

Even as the reporter makes clear that Latiesha lived as a woman, she says right at the top of the story, “…police say he [DeLee] killed a man because he’s gay.” Though she occasionally refers to Latiesha using female pronouns, she also continues to refer to her as male, as does the Syracuse police chief. In one particularly lurid moment the reporter says, “Latiesha was no stranger to the torment that surrounded her lifestyle”.

Jim is not a reporter, he’s merely sharing information from other sources and most of those available sources are perpetuating the misunderstanding about Cannon’s gender identity. It’s one thing to offer sources that clarify the situation, it’s another to attack Jim for sharing the information in as accurate a way as he is able.

I think the important thing here is that someone has been killed simply for being who she was. This is a truly awful and unacceptable thing. My heart goes out to the grieving family and to all who knew and loved Latiesha. I’m glad to know that whatever confusion and discomfort police may have with Latiesha’s identity, they have acted swiftly to apprehend and charge the alleged killer and have been clear that this was a bias-motivated crime.

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