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Officials Partner With LGBT Advocate to Correctly Identify Trans Fire Victims

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A memorial is seen near the site of a warehouse fire on Dec. 2, 2016, in Oakland. The fire took place during a musical event late Friday night. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Authorities say they’re trying to be sensitive to the way they identify transgender victims of the fire that killed 36 people in Oakland on Friday.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office tweeted on Monday that it was working to fix its official list of victims to reflect the preferred names of those who identify as transgender. Users tweeted at the office saying a trans woman was misidentified by her birth name rather than her preferred name, Feral Pines, on the city’s official list.

"Right now we are actively working with an advocate from the LGBT community so that we are sensitive and that we are properly reporting," said Tya Modeste, spokeswoman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

The public list of victims includes at least three trans women using their chosen names: Cash Askew, Em Bohlka and Feral Pines. State law requires that the women's chosen names also appear on their death certificates.



The Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that it was working with Tiffany Woods, program coordinator for Transvision at Tri-City Health Center, which serves trans women in Alameda County. According to UCSF's Center of Excellence for Transgender Health website, Woods' program is the only one serving transgender women in the county.


After the office tweeted that it would honor the memory and identity of Feral Pines, users continued to tweet at Woods and official city Twitter accounts. Users asked them to delete previous tweets that misidentified Pines, as media outlets continued sharing the original list.

Officials apologized and deleted the tweets of the original list, and asked media outlets to do the same.

Woods later tweeted that the delay in deleting the original list was not intended to disrespect Pines. "Please work with us," she said. "We are working with many moving parts ..."

Tara Siler and Sandhya Dirks contributed to this post.

This post has been updated to remove Pines' birth name.

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