His name was Jordan

Elizabeth Blackburn
Aug 7 · 2 min read

Jordan Cofer, a rising senior at Wright State University and recent tour guide at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula, Montana, died in the early hours of August 4, 2019. He was 22.

Jordan was the youngest of the nine people murdered at Ned Peppers Bar in Dayton, Ohio. Jordan’s brother, Connor Betts, robbed him of the opportunity to be remembered as he lived. As he wrote on his Tumblr bio, he was a trans man with “a loving heart and way too much work to do.”

Today Jordan is incorrectly memorialized in countless news stories featuring high school prom photos taken from his mother’s Facebook page. Jordan, who was studying earth and environmental sciences and sang in the school chorus, had come out as transgender to just a handful of people. The only people he told were those that he could trust to support him.

The dead deserve to be recognized for who they were in life. Far too often when a young LGBTQ person dies, they are not afforded the dignity of an accurate public record. The duty to tell their truth falls to their lovers, friends, and confidantes. Thankfully, Jordan was much loved.

A lot has been written about Jordan recently, but quotes from any 22-year old’s high school classmates represent only the smallest sliver of a life. We should be grateful, then, that Jordan recently updated his social media accounts and began posting under his chosen name. He wanted a fresh start. He deserved so more than just the start.

This obituary is woefully incomplete. If you knew Jordan Cofer and would like to contribute to his memory, DM me on Twitter at @InnateOptimist or email me at e.r.blackburn at gmail dot com. If you’re a reporter, you should try talking to his friends and stop deadnaming and misgendering him.

8/7/19: Edited to remove several photos at the request of someone close to Jordan, and to reflect his attendance at Wright State University, previously incorrectly printed as Wright State Community College.

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