Cemia Acoff
Transgender Woman's Body Found Near Cleveland; News Coverage Denounced

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2013 5:21 PM ET

A body found in a pond near Cleveland was identified Monday as that of a transgender woman who was reported missing a month ago.

Cemia “Ci Ci” Dove, 20, of Cleveland, had been stabbed to death, and there was a rope around her waist that was tied to a concrete block and a steel pipe, police told local media at a press conference Monday afternoon. Her body was badly decomposed, indicating she was killed some time ago. She was reported missing March 27, and her body was found April 17 in the pond in Olmsted Township, west of Cleveland. The pond had been used to catch and recycle water runoff from a greenhouse that once operated in the area. A resident of a nearby apartment house discovered her body, and police identified her through DNA. She was born Carl Acoff and was identified earlier as Cemia Acoff; friends say she went by Cemia Dove.

Activists have objected to the way Cleveland media, including daily newspaper The Plain Dealer and the Fox TV affiliate, reported on the story, with references to the Dove’s body being “oddly dressed” (in a tank top and bra), describing her as a man even after the discovery of her name and the fact that she identified as female, and discussion of her police record.

GLAAD’s Aaron McQuade released a statement noting that The Plain Dealer has updated its coverage to use the proper pronouns and remove “a few of the more sensationalized aspects of the stories,” but “many problems remain.” Among the points he makes:

- “Describing Acoff as ‘oddly dressed’ is incredibly insulting.”

- “Her murder did not ‘end her fight for acceptance,’ it ended her life. Period.”

- “There is no need to describe what she was wearing at the time of her murder; she had already been identified at the start of both stories, describing her wardrobe only trivializes her murder.”

- “Acoff's criminal record is almost certainly irrelevant to the story, especially when provided without any context concerning the trans community and law enforcement.”

GLAAD has asked Plain Dealer staff to meet with transgender advocates and is contacting other local media. The LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland and Laurel Ramseyer of Pam’s House Blend are among others denouncing the news coverage. TransOhio is taking donations to assist Dove’s family.