Lazy literal translations are no excuse for insensitivity. Bakla may translate as gay and the Philippine culture may respect transwomen in a different manner than we do in the US but the US and EU media ought not call Jennifer Laude,  Jeffery or He even if that is the literal translation of the words! Bakla translates as transwoman not gay man when applied to someone like Jennifer Laude. 
Many in the media have rather carelessly, or even maliciously, used headlines such as.  
Marine Suspected of Killing Transgender Jeffrey 'Jennifer' Laude NBC...really as liberal and LGB (but maybe not really T) friendly as they supposedly are.  (Update NBC keeps on saying it U.S. Marine Charged Over Murder of Transgender Filipino Jeffrey 'Jennifer' Laude)

Marine held in connection with probe into murder of transgender Filipino FOX News....slightly more sensitive and neutral actually. 

U.S. Marine identified as suspect in transgender woman's death in Philippines  CNN at least got it right in their headline.

Jennifer was killed probably by Asphyxiation by choking and or drowning by Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton , so charge the Philippine authorities. 

A key cultural difference.

Before I rant about this, it must be said that every culture has some transgender people in it. From places like Iran, Pakistan and the UAE to Africa to America.  We are a part of the human condition.  just as the Faeder Ruff is part of the condition of that species (it's genes were mapped a autosomal polymorphism causes 1% of the to be what if they were human we would call transgender.)  The birds and the bees are not as simple as diametrically opposed masculine males and feminine females. 

Most cultures give us transgender men and women some limited level of acceptance.  East Asian cultures are, among urbanized cultures, the more accepting of us.  That said, they usually do not claim nor assert that male to female transwomen are simply women.  Even as they use female clothes, try to and succeed at looking female, and living an essentially female life.  A life with a few modifications due to our anatomy which is not female, but other things about us are not exactly male either.   (Much like the Ruff, the most plausible is a polymorphism in our DNA which is passed on in the relatively rare instances where young starting transwomen have children. Transwomen, even ones who start young and all that do very rarely, about 1% of the time, have children.  That it's in our DNA and that we simply pass the trait on as everyone else passes on having blue eyes or brown skin is the simplest explanation. Like the bird I mentioned earlier.)  To see more about this check out

It is very true that even Jennifer Laude's family who loved and accepted her as trans will refer to her using the word Bakla which literally translates as gay and remembers and uses both her female name and her male name.  In this video on the Daily Mail's website they have a very pretty image of her with her male name on her coffin. 

Transwomen in Asian cultures see gender differently than we do in the west.  However when these people do come to the west they use our terms.  They are not gay they are transwomen. 


Jennifer was not a "gay" but a transgender woman, to be refereed to as such at all times given her presentation to the world.   That is the correct translation of what words referring to her mean in terms of US and EU cultures. 


It feels like the media just can't wait to misgender a transwoman and took this chance to do it while hiding behind a thin veneer of cultural sensitivity.  Certainly the big three cable news operations have enough LGBT people working there that someone would say hey... this person looks an awful lot like a transwoman. 

Some old readers may remember that I have defended scientific works which used terms like homosexual transsexual and autogynephilic,  male,  etc.  Those are scientific works used in a specific technical or academic context.  Things like papers in journals or books which might be assigned reading for courses on the subject in which other books would also be the assigned reading that give the counter points. Often courses taught by transgender persons, or with the presence of actual transgender persons. Context is key.

The news on the other hand speaks to the great bulk of the masses and is all most of them will ever see of us.  When they see an image of someone like this....... 

.... and call them a man it can only be to shock and titillate.  Maybe some degree of jealousy on the part of female staffers is involved.  They get people to click on the story with this image then tell them "it's a man"  (not even he or she often "it". )  Thus re victimizing the victim millions of times over.  

End rant. 

Since someone will ask what am I?  I am a person of significant American Indian heritage (as well as African American and Anglo American).  I feel most comfortable thinking of myself as two-spirit male and female roles are not fully appropriate.  In a culture which demands of me that I check one box or the other I check female, and mostly live female while at the same time embracing the aspects of myself that are masculine.
Gender is language and culture.  Translations have to be aware of cultures and the meanings they give words.    

One last thing. As a member of the media, having blogged here since 2006, I know the pressure to get a story out there and that sometimes mistakes are made.  I understand a bit of what people at big organizations might feel.  Never the less the greater the power and reach of your outlet the greater the responsibility. ( the old line from SpiderMan.)