• Colorado Springs Police took unique step of publicly releasing the victims names and their pronouns.
  • ‘Refreshing,’ one LGBTQ leader says. ‘Otherwise, it’s being even more disrespectful in death.’
  • ‘A welcomed surprise,’ another LGBTQ leader says, ‘This should be the norm, without exception.’

As Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez somberly took to the podium during a news conference Monday to identify the five victims fatally shot at Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he calmly said their names — and their pronouns.

“We respect all of our community members, including our LGBTQ community,” Vasquez said. “Therefore, we will be identifying the victims by how they identified themselves and how their families have loved and identified them.”

He reads their names: Kelly Loving; Pronouns are “she/her;” Daniel Aston; Pronouns are “he/him;” Derrick Rump; Pronouns are “he/him;” Ashley Paugh; Pronouns are “she/her;” Raymond Green Vance; Pronouns are “he/him.”

Authorities decided to take a rare but deliberate step of taking time verifying the correct names and pronouns of the victims by working with their families, and not merely relying on what the coroner’s office provides, a Colorado Springs city spokeswoman told USA TODAY on Monday. 

Gesture praised by national LGBTQ leaders

Tony Morrison, a senior communications director from GLAAD, who is currently in Colorado Springs, told USA TODAY that the organization worked closely with the police department “to ensure that the names released will be the names they go by and respectful of the gender-expansive community here.”

The goal, Morrison added, was to be “in lockstep with the families affected.”

That came as good news to Olivia Hunt, a National Center for Transgender Equality policy director. She’s heartened that police are using the names the victims go by, not what appears on their driver’s licenses or birth certificates.

“It is refreshing to hear that they are taking the time to make sure they’re known by the correct names and pronouns,” Hunt said. “Otherwise, it’s being even more disrespectful in death as they are by some in life.”