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Gizzy Fowler, a transwoman, murdered in North Nashville

Mainstream news coverage downplays sexuality, trans identity

November 14, 2014 James Grady   Comments

Police identified the victim of Wednesday morning's vicious, early-morning murder, who was found in the driveway of 3904 Lunn Drive, as Gilbert “Gizzy” Fowler, 24, who is last known to have lived on Southside Court.  Fowler’s next-of-kin was notified before this information was released.

According to police, "North Precinct officers responded to a burglary call at the residence at 5:27 a.m.  A neighbor saw a white car in the driveway (Fowler’s 2006 Buick LaCrosse) and a possible light coming from the property.  The neighbor knew that was suspicious since the home was unoccupied due to the recent natural death of the owner.  Officers found Fowler’s body outside the passenger side of the car.  The home was locked and showed no sign of forced entry.  Neighbors told police that they heard what may have been a gunshot between 4 a.m. & 5 a.m."

Gilbert Fowler.jpg

Police provided this photograph of Fowler (R), better known by her chosen name, Gizzy, in the Nashville trans community. Nashville's WKRN-TV, however, chose to report the crime under the headline, "Man found shot to death wearing women's clothing in north Nashville." As of the time this story was filed, that report had not been corrected to reflect that Gizzy is a transwoman. The focus of this story is, rather, on police spokesman Don Aaron's aside: “We'll be trying to confirm why this person was here and if this person has been known to frequent the area,” adding that Fowler had a history with police. Likewise, at this time, neither WSMV-TN, nor the Tennessean, have reported on this case as a crime against a trans person. Only WZTV Nashville (Fox 17) has updated their story to reflect that the "Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition announced that victim was a Nashville transgender woman."

Gizzy's murder, coming a week before the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, highlights the violence still faced by this marginalized community (as discussed by Bobbi Williams in the November 2014 print edition). Coverage of such crime often minimizes the identity of the victim, decreasing the visibility of the problem. LeSaia Wade, who works with the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), commented about local coverage on Facebook, that the problem "of Nashville misgendering trans folks is real..."

In response to a very public outpouring of support within the Nashville LGBT community, next week's Transgender Day of Remembrance events - November 20 - have been moved from Edgehill United Methodist Church to Scarritt Bennett. Organizers report that at this time over 115 people have indicated they intended to attend the event, with that number set to climb sharply as awareness of the crime spreads. The event will include a remembrance of the victims of violence against trans people, and LeSaia Wade will speak about Gizzy. For more information about the TDOR event, and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.

If you or anyone you know has information about Gizzy's murder, North Precinct detectives are continuing in their efforts to identify the person(s) responsible.  Anyone with information that could assist with the investigation is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME, or through an electronic tip by texting the word “CASH” along with the message to 274637 (CRIMES) or online at www.nashvillecrimestoppers.com.  Those who contact Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

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