Things That Matter

Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live

In Mexico, many in the trans community have become fearful for their lives as a record number of trans people have been killed in the country. Even with a pro-LGBTQ+ rights government at the helm, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office Dec. 1, has yet to put out any protections that would protect transgender people. 

Upon taking office, President López Obrador made promises that his administration would conduct “effective” investigations into LGBTQ+ hate crimes and physical attacks. So far, these promises haven’t led to any changes violence has continued to increase against the LGBTQ+ community, according to a recent study by the LGBTQ+ rights group, Letra S.

From 2013-2018, 261 trans women have been killed in Mexico. Brazil is the only country more dangerous than Mexico for trans women.

Credit: @AP / Twitter

While the study reflects numbers over a five-year span mostly before President López Obrador took office, death rates for trans women have already surged this year. 16 transgender women were reportedly killed from January to April this year already and at least six more since then, according to the Associated Press

These growing numbers aren’t just a reflection of the dangers in Mexico but in Latin America as whole where these trends have continued. Trans women in Latin America are some of the most at-risk citizens facing sky-high rates of violence, sexual abuse, and homicide. An Amnesty International survey found that 88 percent of LGBTQ+ asylum-seekers from these areas have suffered sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin. From 2006 to 2016, 1,654 trans and gender-diverse people were killed in Central and South America.

So what is being done to help curb these homicide rates and pursue justice for those being killed? Not much. 

Similar to other homicide-related crimes in Mexico, most of these attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have resulted in little to no actual convictions. According to the AP, less than 3 percent of LGBTQ+ homicides have resulted in a conviction since 2013.

In 2014, Mexico City became the first city in the country to allow trans people to change their gender and names on their legal birth certificates. This law has since been adopted by six of Mexico’s 32 states. Despite the progress in trans rights, a lot more needs to be done to protect people from violence and death.

There is still little being done to help the LGBTQ+ community in Mexico leaving community leaders and activists to pursue justice on their own. 

Credit: Unsplash

Kenya Cuevas, a trans sex worker in Mexico, became an activist for the LGTBQ+ community when a fellow trans sex worker was killed in front of her. On Sept. 29, 2016, Cuevas’ friend, Paola Buenrostro was shot multiple times as she entered a john’s car. Cuevas ran to her friends rescue only to have the gun pointed at her but even though man pulled the trigger, she survived as the weapon jammed. She would hold the man until authorities came. She recorded everything that happened on her phone for evidence. 

Despite Cuevas recording the incident and multiple witnesses on hand, the gunman was released from custody within a week. The incident lit a fire within Cuevas and inspired her to take matters into her own hands. She left the sex work industry and founded the organization Casa de Muñecas, a group that focuses on promoting protections for transgender women. 

Cuevas has quickly become one of the most recognizable trans activists in Mexico who is calling for legal change in the country that would protect the trans community.

“When that happened to Paola, I protested and I did it publicly, asking for justice the entire time,” Cuevas told the AP. “I don’t want special treatment. Just give me justice — do your job.”

Women are leading the charge when it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ rights and protections in Mexico. 

Credit: @sentinelglobe / Twitter

The fight for the protection and equal rights for trans women in Mexico has been an uphill battle for many activist organizations. When it comes to finding jobs, employers have openly refused to hire transgender women which has resulted in many looking for sex work. In return, these limited opportunities have led to many of these women being on the streets where there are dangerous conditions. 

The increase in violence against trans women in Mexico is a reflection of the overall dangerous situation in the country where homicide rates have reached record highs. Murders in Mexico have spiked in the first half of this year and at this current pace, it will most likely be the highest on record, according to official data.

Lina Pérez, president of the pro-LGBTQ organization Cuenta Conmigo, told the AP that the trans community is constantly left behind when it comes to receiving help because they are often shunned by police.

“It’s easier to grant impunity because the same people that oversee the law think that they’re sick, that there is something wrong with them,” Pérez said.

Cuevas said she will do whatever it takes to support LGBTQ+ rights and fight on behalf of the memory of her slain friend. This means having to deal with constant death threats if the Mexico government won’t take action. 

“If I don’t do it, the government isn’t going to do it,” Cuevas said. “And if I wait for the government to do it, how many more people are going to be killed?”

READ: Federal Judge Blocks Ban On Asylum-Seekers Who Travel Through Safe Third Country

Daughter Shares Video Of Her Mom Handing Out Sandwiches To The Poor And People Love It

Culture

Daughter Shares Video Of Her Mom Handing Out Sandwiches To The Poor And People Love It

@guera_trizz / Twitter

A video of a woman passing out sandwiches to the poor in Cancún, Mexico has gone viral, and Twitter has raised over $2,000 to keep her going. Twitter user Beatriz Mages knew her mom made sandwiches to pass out every week, but she had never seen the footage before. Last week, she tweeted the video and captioned it, “My Mom makes HUNDREDS of sandwiches and tortas weekly for the poor where she lives in Mexico and I am just now seeing this footage! I am crying 😭😭 what a good soul 😭.” It has since been viewed by over 2.2 million people and retweeted over 53k times at the time of publication.

Twitter is giving Mama Mages lots of love, and have even raised thousands of dollars to help her keep feeding the hungry line of people that rely on her act of kindness each week.

A long line of folks are seen waiting for their weekly torta, and Mama Mages is passing out smiles to go with them.

Credit: @guera_trizz / Twitter

“Buena!” you hear the folks in the line saying as she starts passing the tortas out. Latino Twitter has come out in full force to bestow all their “Que Dios la bendiga”‘s on this “angelita.”

I’m sorry ma’am. But she is OUR mother now. We are all adopting her and we’re all proud and you’re just gonna have to deal with it,” one user tells Beatriz. 

Someone else asked Beatriz, “Would it be weird if I said I love your mom?” Beatriz’s response? “No, she loves u too.”  😭

The people asked for more angelic content and Beatriz happily obliged.

Credit: @guera_trizz / Twitter

“Look! Seriously amazing,” Beatriz shared along with more photos of her mom making sandwiches, and the line of people cheering for her.

Your mom is proof good kind caring people still exist. Heroes get remembered but legends never die. One day someone will tell their child or grandchild about the kind women who helped feed hundreds of hungry people on her own,” one touched Twitter user replied. 

“Just look at everyone’s faces,” tweeted one Armando.

Credit: @guera_trizz / Twitter

“She is a god,” “She is an angel,” “A Saint,” read the comments pouring in for Mama Mages. Dozens of people started asking Beatriz if there was a way they could help. One person offered her time to help make sandwiches and pass them out next time she was in the area. Most folks asked if there was a GoFundMe they could donate to keep Mama Mages going.

After people asked how they can donate to her mom’s cause, Mages set up a GoFundMe, which raised $2,185 in just five days.

Credit: @guera_trizz / Twitter

“My mom makes hundreds of sandwiches and tortas for the poor In Mexico, she doesn’t have much money her self but she continues to donate to those less fortunate regardless,” Mages writes in the GoFundMe. “She is always donating clothing and other useful items and never asks for help. Please feel free to donate anything so that she can keep on giving.”

In the comments, folks are asking her to create a PayPal account so that they can donate to the cause monthly.

Beatriz also told folks that they can help by staying at her mom’s Airbnb in Cancún.

Credit: Joy / Airbnb

By the way my mom has a beautiful air bnb at her home in Cancun,” tweeted Beatriz. “This is her only source of income and she uses her earnings and donations to give to the poor!” We have a feeling this incredible villa is about to booked by all the buena gente who support the cause because it’s been retweeted hundreds of times. By the looks of Airbnb, it seems like her mom’s name is, in fact, “Joy.”

Joy’s reaction to her new status as Latino Twitter’s New Mom? “That’s cool.”

Credit: @guera_trizz / Twitter

My mom is actually visiting me in the US right now and look at her reaction 😂😂😂 SO PURE,” tweeted Beatriz, alongside a video of her mom. “Ma, you’re famous. What do you think?” she asks her mom. Her mom awkwardly gives a thumbs up, then a peace sign, then another thumbs up and says, “That’s cool.” She’s clearly not in it for the fans, and that makes us love her even more. 

Latino Twitter has sanctified Joy Mages, who shall forever be known as Twitter’s Mom of the Year, or just San Joy. You can donate to her GoFundMe here.

READ: Studies Say Latina Moms Struggle With Pregnancies In Ways That Are Unique To Themselves In Early Stages

Hate Crimes Remained Level In 2018 But They Became More Violent And Targeted Latinos And Trans Community In Record Numbers

Things That Matter

Hate Crimes Remained Level In 2018 But They Became More Violent And Targeted Latinos And Trans Community In Record Numbers

Nigel Chiwaya / Getty

Violent hate crimes in 2018 were the highest they have been in 16 years, according to a report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While hate crimes in general slightly decreased, the number of violent crimes significantly increased. Moreover, Latinx and trans people increasingly became targets of hate crimes. 

The FBI collected data from over 16,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies which found 7,120 hate crimes logged. This was just a 1 percent decrease from 2017. However small, being just a difference of 55 incidents, it is the first time the total number of hate crimes has gone down in four years. 

Violent hate crimes increase, while total hate crimes decrease.

Violent hate crimes, which differ from hate crimes that involve property, jumped from 4,090 to 4,571. The 12 percent jump reveals white supremacists have become increasingly emboldened. 

“This is really significant,” Brian Levin, the director for the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism who analyzed the data told The Guardian.  “The more we have these derisive stereotypes broadcasted into the ether, the more people are going to inhale that toxin.”

Levin implied the popular hateful rhetorics of our time have violent outcomes for the targets of such ire. Hate crimes against Muslims and Arab-Americans, Jewish people, and Black Americans (although still the most targeted group)decreased in 2018. While hate crimes increased for Latinxs and trans people who are more frequent subjects of condemnation during the Trump administration era. 

The disabled, Latinx and trans people face higher rates of hate crimes in the Trump era.

Anti-Latinx hate crimes, the Walmart El Paso shooting being one example, increased by 14 percent jumping to 485 reports in 2018, and increasing 48 percent over five years. 

“The number of crimes targeting Muslims cratered,” Levin said. “Anti-Semitic crimes dropped. But the ones targeting Latinos increased for the third year.”

Meanwhile, trans and gender-nonconforming people saw an increase of 41 percent with 168 hate crimes reported. People with disabilities saw a 37 percent surge to 159 reports as well. 

“We’re seeing a leaner and meaner type of hate crime going on,” Levin told NPR. “Homicides were up and crimes against persons were up and that’s an important thing to look at.”

Even with this many, experts still say the FBI’s number is a “significant undercount” according to The Guardian. 

“[The President’s] white supremacist rhetoric and talking points that vilify people” are encouraging violent attacks, Jorge Gutierrez, the executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, told The Guardian. “Every day, people are afraid to come together in public spaces. People are afraid to be proud of who they are.” 

Another report by the Guardian found that Latinxs were changing their behaviors as they grapple with anti-Latinx attitudes. 

“Every day when I take my daughter to school we pray. I ask God to protect her,” Lidia Carrillo, an immigrant from Mexico, said “I don’t know if I’m going to see my daughter or my husband at the end of the day.”

Other Latinxs said they went out at night to run errands when fewer people were out, they avoid crowded places, and tried to be aware of the nearest exits at all times. Others were so traumatized from hearing about the El Paso shooting they didn’t leave the house for days.

Trump’s hateful rhetoric is a part of the problem according to experts. 

Trump spread misinformation about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) saying some of them were “no angels” and many were “hardened criminals,” on the very same day the Supreme Court began to weigh in on whether to keep the program. 

“Trump has also repeatedly pushed anti-LGBT policies, and he and other Republicans have aggressively targeted trans rights and advocated for discriminatory laws,” according to the Guardian. 

What is known as the “Trump Effect” has become a solid theory with mounting evidence. The Washington Post reportedthat in 2016, counties that hosted Trump rallies saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes. Recent academic research found that just hearing Trump’s offensive rhetoric against a group of people made individuals more likely to write offensive things about such targets. It is naive to think Trump will stop when it’s the reason he garnered his support in the first place. 

“While some observers have explained Trump’s success as a result of economic anxiety, the data demonstrate that anti-immigrant sentiment, racism, and sexism are much more strongly related to support for Trump,” Vanessa Williamson and Isabella Gelfand wrote for the Brookings Institute

“Trump did not do especially well with non-college-educated whites, compared to other Republicans. He did especially well with white people who express sexist views about women and who deny racism exists.”