Today marks #TransDayofRememberance (Nov. 20). A somber day in which we honor and remember the loss of far too many transgender lives to hate and violence. In 2020 alone, at least 37 transgender people had been murdered, one as recently as yesterday. The Human Rights Campaign has kept track of the growing statistic since their reporting first launched in 2013. Though, they note, many of the transgender lives lost go unreported, this year is the highest number they have seen yet. The senseless murders of transgender people must end.
Here are some of the Latinx lives lost over the past couple of years. Que descansen en Paz.
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz (Feb. 24, 2020)
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, a.k.a. “Alexa,” was a homeless transgender woman whose death is making Puerto Rico examine how it treats transgender people with mental health problems. Her death also brought to light how the marginalization of the transgender community leads to issues like homelessness.
Yampi Méndez Arocho (March 5, 2020)
Yampi Méndez Arocho was a 19-year-old transgender man killed in Puerto Rico. He was a huge Miami Heat fan and had only one quote listed on his Facebook profile, “Humility prevails.”
Layla Pelaez Sánchez (April 21, 2020)
Layla Pelaez Sánchez was a 32-year-old transgender Latina who was murdered in Puerto Rico. She is described by her cousin as a woman who “was just beginning to explore the world.”
Serena Angelique Velásquez Ramos (April 21, 2020)
Killed alongside her friend, Layla Sanchez, Serena Angelique Velásquez Ramos was only 21. She was visiting her friend after Layla had just moved to the island.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez (April 13, 2020)
Penélope Díaz Ramírez was a 31-year-old transgender woman, and the third transgender woman of color to be killed in Puerto Rico in April alone.
Selena Reyes-Hernandez (May 31, 2020)
Selena Reyes-Hernandez was a 37-year-old transgender Latina who was killed because the man she went home with was upset to discover she was transgender.
Marilyn Cazares (June 13, 2020)
Marilyn Cazares was a 22-year-old transgender Latina. She was deeply loved by her co-workers, who despite misgendering her in news clips following her murder, said she “will be missed” and she was often the “life of the party.”
Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas (Sept. 30, 2020)
Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas was a 33-year-old transgender Latina. She was a bartender and was studying nursing at the time of her murder.
Camila Maria Concepcion (Feb. 2020)
Camila Maria Concepcion was a writer’s assistant for the Netflix show, Gentefied. Her death by suicide was a shock to those who loved her and many of her co-workers took to social media to remember her.
Lorena Borjas (March 31, 2020)
Lorena Borjas was a 60-year-old activist and social worker who died due to COVID-19. She worked closely with the Transgender Law Center who stated that Lorena, “saved so many lives from state violence, neglect, and abuse, and she fought tirelessly for trans migrants, people living with HIV, and sex workers.”
Stephanie Montez (Oct. 21 2020)
Stephanie Montez was a 47-year-old transgender woman living in Texas who was murdered. She was misgendered at the time of her death, however, all of her assailants were found and sentenced.
Viccky Gutierrez (Jan. 10, 2018)
Viccky Gutierrez was a transgender woman from Honduras who was killed in a fire described by law enforcement as “suspicious.” Friends described Viccky as, “the nicest girl in the world.”
Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón (May 9, 2018)
Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón was a 26-year-old transgender Latina who was murdered. She was choked in her apartment during a robbery. In a Facebook post, a friend wrote, “We will remember you with love. Your beautiful smile will stay with us.”
Layleen Polanco (June 2, 2019)
Layleen Polanco was 27-year-old Afro-Latina transgender woman who was held in solitary confinement at Rikers for 15 months. She was murdered in police custody. Her death is being investigated as systemic abuse. Despite reports that 17 guards would face discipline, only four have been suspended without pay.
Johana “Joa” Medina Leon (June 6, 2019)
Johana Medina Leon was a 25-year-old transgender woman from El Salvador who was held in ICE custody. Seven weeks later, she was pronounced dead. Hers, and Layleen Polanco, are among the many cases that are now being investigated as systemic abuse by law enforcement.
Yunieski Carey Herrera. (Nov. 17, 2020)
Yunieski Carey Herrera was a 39-year-old transgender Latina. She was a model who went by the name “Yuni Carey.” She was murdered in her Miami highrise by her husband, who claimed he was high on meth and did it out of jealousy.