Associated Press Violates Its Own Guidelines In Reporting On Transgender Man Killed By Police

The Associated Press violated its own guidelines for how to refer to transgender people in a report on a transgender man who was shot and killed by police in Arizona.

Kayden Clarke was shot and killed by police who were responding to a suicide call in his Mesa, AZ, home on February 4.

In a February 6 article, “Woman killed by Phoenix-area police had popular online video,” the Associated Press violated its own guidelines for writing about transgender people, which state that transgender people should be identified by their preferred pronouns. Instead, the article repeatedly misgendered Clarke, calling him “she,” even while acknowledging that Clarke was “hoping to transition from female to male and was known to friends as Kayden Clarke:”  

Police in a Phoenix suburb shot and killed a knife-wielding woman whose struggles with Asperger's syndrome went viral last year when she posted an online video showing her service dog comforting her.

Two officers responding to a report of a suicidal woman were carrying stun guns but fired their weapons because they felt threatened as Danielle Jacobs, 24, lunged at them with a 12-inch kitchen knife in her home Thursday, Mesa Detective Esteban Flores said.

“They had a lethal weapon coming at them,” Flores said Friday. “They were threatened.”

Although police used her legal name, the Arizona Republic reported Friday night that she was hoping to transition from female to male and was known to friends as Kayden Clarke.


 [Heather Allen, founder of HALO Animal Rescue] said she called police Thursday to ask that they check on Jacobs after the 24-year-old sent a suicidal email that morning asking that someone care for her dog, Sampson.

Allen questioned whether it was necessary to shoot Jacobs.

“I wasn't there, so I don't know how she was behaving,” Allen said. "I wish they had been able to use non-lethal restraint, if they could have used a Taser or a beanbag gun.

“She didn't have a gun. She had a knife,” Allen said. “It just seems to me there could have been a better way.”

One of the officers responding to the call was retrieving a bean bag gun when the shooting occurred, Flores said. Two officers stayed in the apartment, including one who had training in crisis intervention to deal with such situations.

CNN, The Washington Post, and People all correctly identified Clarke as male in their reports on the shooting. (CNN had published an earlier article that misgendered Clarke but has since noted that the article was published before the outlet realized Clarke was transgender.)

Despite its clear guidelines requiring reporters to identify transgender people using their preferred names and pronouns, the Associated Press has recently misgendered transgender people in multiple reports.