Bad Bunny surprised fans by giving more than expected during his visit with Jimmy Fallon last night: He revealed the release specs and title of his new album, which we know now is Yo Hago Que Me Da La Gana—and it’s out Friday at midnight.
During his performance of “Ignorantes” with Panamanian reggaetónero Sech, though, he promoted a message that goes beyond music, speaking directly to human rights. Just shy of three minutes in, he opened his blazer to boost the message on his T-shirt: “They killed Alexa. Not a man in a skirt.”
This past Monday, 29-year-old black trans woman, Neulisa Alexa Luciano Ruiz, who’d been living on the streets in various parts of Puerto Rico for some time, was brutally shot and killed around around 3:50 a.m.
Benito’s message speaks to her death, but also defends her against the Puerto Rican press and any transphobic references to Alexa made this week. Puerto Rico media has been notoriously ignorant—another layer to Benito’s message, maybe—in regards to respecting the pronouns of trans and gender nonconforming individuals, even in their death. A swarm of headlines misgendering Alexa, describing her as a man in women’s clothing, angered the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies as they grieved early Tuesday morning.
Alexa’s murder occurred about 12 hours after she’d used the women’s restroom at a McDonald’s. A woman complained, a police officer arrived; Alexa was deemed not a threat and was not held. But someone posted a photo of Alexa being questioned, warning of a “peeping tom” in the area, and the sensationalist cautions, based on false information, went viral.
The general consensus, although not officially confirmed by police, is that, as a result of the viral accusations, Alexa was hunted and killed. The horrifying act was filmed in a video, which officials believe to be authentic, and posted to social media. From a car, seemingly to get her attention, men yelled obscenities (“Give me that a*s!”), then threats (“We’re gonna run him over”). The sound of a gun being loaded is heard before multiple shots are fired at Alexa, who’d been walking in the opposite direction of the car until turning around as her attention was called.
News of Alexa’s murder is now circling U.S. and global news. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren also expressed her lament on Twitter, calling to “protect trans women of color.”
As more details about Alexa’s life surface—the abusive environment from which she fled, the poetic pleas for a better life she’d scrawl on public restroom mirrors, folks who helped her vouching for her good nature, the fact that she was also neurodiverse—the tragedy deepens.
Benito is consistently espousing messages about Puerto Rico that absolutely need to be heard, supporting resistance movements and more. We knew he cared for the LGBTQIA+ community already, but using a major platform like Fallon’s stage to honor Alexa and unmistakably position himself an ally to trans people felt unprecedented.
With machismo, homophobia, and transphobia still rampant in Latinx culture—and so many others—Benito opted to, again, speak against systemic discrimination. And he did this while wearing a skirt.