Trans woman’s court case as covered by media

News about the storming of the beauty salon owned by Nigar Ibrahimova by a trans woman named A.T. was circulated without any mention of the background of the incident that took place in 2021. Along with the news articles reporting about the release of A.T. from detention, the Azerbaijani media outlets (more precisely, news websites like Moderator.az, Olay.az, Milli.az, Axsam.az, Musavat.com, Big.az, Azxeber. com, Nocomment.az) also published news materials with a transphobic title and content two weeks ago, on 28 July. Those news articles were completely biased, impartial and transphobic. “The sexual minority who stormed a famous salon in Baku was freed” – this is the headline which was more or less repeated by most of the news websites.

BEAR IN MIND: “Sexual minority” is a PHOBIC term. People should not be introduced as belonging to minorities. LGBTIQ+ is not a minority and it is impossible to determine whether they are a minority or not. Introducing LGBTIQ+ as a minority perpetuates and further exacerbates the existing violence against LGBTIQ+ people and silences the voices of queer persons. We are not in a position to identify any person’s orientation or sexuality and to describe LGBTIQ+ as a “minority”. It directly depends on the statements of the persons themselves. The idea that “the minority is subordinate to the majority” is inherent in a hierarchical mindset, and given that societies like ours derive their power from patriarchal and heteronormative politics, introducing LGBTIQ+ as a minority stigmatizes them as oppressed and victimized in public.

Moreover, the above-said news articles have made use of A.T.’s “dead name” (a name assigned to a person at birth and the one which is written on ID). The Azerbaijani media persistently applies “deadnaming” in the news about trans people, using the names on their ID cards, rather than the names chosen by the persons themselves.

BEAR IN MIND: When you misspell a name, it can be a very stressful and traumatic experience for trans people, even though an apology and correction may follow. Because by applying “deadnaming”, you ignore the reality that trans women are happy with and you discredit their identity. In fact, “deadnaming” is a PHOBIC act.

A.T. was arrested on hooliganism and drug possession charges. One can read news about heterosexual citizens arrested on similar charges on a daily basis, but has any of that news been headlined as “The heterosexual who stormed a famous salon in Baku has been released”? NO. What is the reason? The reason is that whether a person is heterosexual or not has nothing to do with the fact that they have committed some big or small crime. But why is sexual orientation or gender identity emphasized and exaggerated when LGBTIQ+ persons are involved in some offence? The reason is LGBTIQ+phobic policies and discrimination. These attempts aim to criminalize a group of people based on several criminal incidents related to LGBTIQ+.

BEAR IN MIND: Reporting a violation by emphasizing a person’s gender identity further reinforces transphobic stereotypes in society. Emphasizing gender identity or sexual orientation by providing details that have nothing to do with the news means LGBTIQ phobia and identifying LGBTIQ+ as a target.

The official statement about the reasons for A.T.’s acquittal reads the following:

The indictment in the case re-examined by the Baku Court of Appeal was completely annulled. The court panel concluded that the criminal case was not duly investigated by the court of the first instance. According to the court’s decision, A.T. was acquitted and released from the courtroom.

Here the Azerbaijani media pursued the same policies introducing the court’s acquittal of A.T. on a phobic level as they did not seem to want to easily remove the trans person from the criminal agenda. So, as soon as the news of her acquittal broke, some media representatives called the owner of the beauty salon asking her “What do you think of the court’s release of A.T.?”

This news was published under the title “Nigar Ibrahimova says she will complain again against the newly released member of a sexual minority – VIDEO“.

Thus, the news was written in a biased manner based only on the statements of the person identified as the victim. If journalists are really interested in whether a fair decision has been issued in this case, they could turn to a lawyer as an expert on relevant legislation inquiring him about the grounds for X’s acquittal by the court.  But they didn’t do that. On the contrary, the media used the complaint of the make-up expert, who is well-known in the show biz, as a tool for their transphobic policy by sharing the old video and trying to introduce A.T. as a “criminal” to the public. Thus, they purposefully seek to shape a violent image for trans people in society.

BEAR IN MIND: Be careful while selecting a source when you produce news. Don’t present the event from only one party’s viewpoint. Any news about a trans person being detained by the police? In this case, one should not refer to the press release issued by the police only. It is necessary to hear various parties on this issue. Various sources should be consulted: LGBTIQ+ people, human rights defenders, court testimony, etc. One-sided news articles usually lead to prejudice and discrimination. It is not sufficient to prepare material based only on interviewees’ statements. The background of the events needs to be investigated, too.