Things That Matter

Mexico Is The World’s Second Deadliest Country For Trans Women And These Activists Have Had Enough

Trans rights in Latin America are an uphill and often heroic battle. Conservative social norms and Catholicism, both of which are generally dogmatic when it comes to any sexual or gender diversity, has shaped Mexican society into a mostly CIS-gendered, patriarchy-led society. However, there are promising signs that long-lasting change could be near and that Mexican culture could shift the tide towards a legal and everyday framework in which rights are respected. 

Trans women in particular are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse and physical violence. 

Mexico is almost as dangerous as Brazil for trans women.

Credit: Homosensual

As the Associated Press reports: “Mexico has become the world’s second deadliest country after Brazil for transgender people, with 261 transgender women slain in 2013-2018, according to a recent study by the LGBTQ rights group Letra S.”

This is just appaling, as is the fact that most crimes go unpunished and that corruption in the Kaflaesque Mexican bureaucracy often leads to even more instances of abuse and trauma for the victims. The Associated Press reported late last year: “Like most crime in Mexico, nearly all such slayings go unsolved and unpunished — less than 3% of the killings of LGBTQ members have resulted in convictions since 2013. So transgender community leaders and activists are largely on their own in pursuing long-denied justice.” And remember there is no peace without justice. 

Trans activists in Mexico City shut down the city’s busiest road to protest the killing of a community member.

El Periférico is one of the busiest roads in the world. Around 20 trans activists blocked it while carrying a coffin. They were protesting the killing of Paola Buenrostro in 2016. The authorities, activists claim, have done close to nothing to solve the case. They blocked El Periférico after delivering documents to the National Human Rights Commission. As CE Noticias Financieras notes, the letter states that: “It accuses the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City (now the Prosecutor’s Office) of not recognizing the gender identity of the victim and Kenya Citlali Cuevas Fuentes, an indirect victim of the crime, as well as of discriminating them against them for being trans women and sex workers. They also noted that they failed to investigate with a gender perspective, negligence in the imputation within the initial hearing, raising evidence and chain of custody, among other misconduct.”

Paola’s friend, the aforementioned Kenya Cuevas, is leading the protest. She was there when Kenya was shot and she was close to experiencing the same fatal fate. Even though Kenya was actually there the authorities did not validate her first-hand testimony. The case turned cold and no one has been blamed for the transfeminicide.

Kenya Cuevas herself got into the coffin to stand for murdered trans and CIS women.

Sometimes the best way to fight for a cause is to be daring and doing things that can have a strong visual and symbolic impact. That is what trans rights activist Kenya Cuevas did by laying inside a coffin in broad daylight. It was a brutal image to remember. Paola’s legacy also lives on through a house for trans women in need set up under her name: this house helps trans women escape drugs and sex work that they might not want to engage in for any other reason other than survival. Kenya’s message while blocking El Peri (as the freeway is commonly known) was clear: “We are tired of being unseen, tired of being violent, tired of not being given us opportunities to succeed, we also support our families. We too are awaited by our relatives and no one cares”. We hear you, reinas hermosas! 

The protest was successful and the women were granted a meeting with the Attorney’s office in Mexico City.

Credit: Homosensual

The protest only lasted ten minutes, but in a road as busy as El Periférico that feels like an eternity. Things got tense between drivers and activists. The police arrived and escorted the trans women to meet with Mexico City’s Attorney General Ernestina Godoy. If we measure activism by the success of their actions in terms of real political change, which can amount to having your voice heard, then we can argue that these trans women made a breakthrough that would probably not have been made without altering the public order.

And that’s what some people, mainly dudes but also some CIS women, do not understand: that trans women and feminists have to resort to methods that might be deemed as extreme, such as painting public monuments and stopping traffic. In the case of Paola’s murder, almost four years went by without the authorities being able or willing to have any developments on the case. Without becoming a real threat and momentarily disrupting traffic flow in Mexico City’s main artery, perhaps they would have never been heard. 

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‘Juno’ Star Elliot Page Highlighted Latinx Trans Women While Opening Up About Transgender Identity

Entertainment

‘Juno’ Star Elliot Page Highlighted Latinx Trans Women While Opening Up About Transgender Identity

Dia Dipasupil / Getty

Elliot Page, the Oscar-nominated star of films such as Juno and X-Men: Days of Future Past, shared with fans that they identify as transgender and non-binary on Tuesday.

“Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they, and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community,” Page wrote in their statement.

In a moving statement shared to the star’s social media feeds, Page explained how the trans community had “inspired” and supported them in the lead up to their decision to share the news with the world. They went onto thank the trans community for “ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”

In issuing their announcement, Page also made an effort to underline their privileges in comparison to the trans Black and Latinx people murdered this year.

Speaking about their transgender and non-binary identity, the latter of which is a term used to describe a person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, Page wrote “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life… I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”

Page went onto emphasize “To be clear, I am not trying to dampen a moment that is joyous and one that I celebrate, but I want to address the full picture. The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx women.”

Page’s highlight of the fatal violence against Black and Latinx trans people in 2020 is such an important step.

This year, the Human Rights Campaign noted that 2020 saw at least 40 trans or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed. The majority of these victims were Black and Latinx transgender women.

Page also condemned politicians who have rejected the rights and humanity of trans people and criminalized trans health care. “You have blood on your hands,” Page wrote. “You unleash a fury of vile and demeaning rage that lands on the shoulders of the trans community.”

Page went onto share his efforts to fight for the trans community continues “To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”

Page stated that their pronouns are “he” and “they.”

HRC listed the transgender and gender non-conforming people lost in 2020. The victims are listed directly from HRC’s site below.

  • Dustin Parker, 25, was fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. His employers released a statement shortly after his death, remembering Parker as “a steadfast friend, an amazing husband and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives.”
  • Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on February 24. According to Metro Puerto Rico, members of her community knew her as “humble” and “noble.”
  • Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho, a transgender man, shared his love for basketball and the NBA — donning Miami Heat apparel on social media. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”
  • Scott/ Scottlynn Devore, a 51-year old gender non-conforming person, was killed in Augusta, Georgia. Friends remembered Devore as “sweet” and “beautiful” on Facebook.
  • Monika Diamond, 34, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18. Diamond was active in the Charlotte LGBTQ and nightlife community and was the co-owner of an event promotion company. She also was the co-CEO of the International Mother of the Year Pageantry System — a pageant that honors LGBTQ mothers.
  • Lexi, 33, a transgender woman, was killed in Harlem, New York on March 28. According to reports, Lexi was fatally stabbed in Harlem River Park. “I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect,” said Lavonia Brooks, a friend of Lexi. “Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted.” Brooks also noted that Lexi loved poetry, makeup and fashion.
  • Johanna Metzger, a transgender woman, was killed in Baltimore, Maryland on April 11. According to reports, she was visiting a Baltimore recovery center from Pennsylvania at the time. Johanna was known for her love of music and taught herself to play multiple instruments.
  • Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Ramos was killed alongside Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21. According to reports, Ramos was visiting the island on vacation, and was set to return to her home in Queens, New York, at the end of the month. Loved ones are mourning her death, calling her “full of life,” a “happy person,” and a “sincere friend.” On May 1, two men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Ramos’s death.
  • Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Sánchez was killed alongside Serena Angelique Velázquez RamosAccording to reports, Sánchez had recently moved to the island, and was living in the Tejas neighborhood in Las Piedras. On May 1, two Puerto Rican men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Sánchez’s death.
  • Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a transgender woman, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 13. “Penélope did not deserve to die. Transgender people do not deserve to die. Every single advocate, ally, elected official and community member must stand up in light of this horrific news and say ‘No more.’ What we are doing is not enough,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
  • Nina Pop, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. She was deeply loved by her family, friends and community, according to her Facebook page.
  • Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, a transgender woman, was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on May 6. O’Regan was proud of her trans identity and on Twitter, she often spoke out against injustice, including the LGBTQ inequality, the prison industrial complex and the need to decriminalize sex work. Damion Terrell Campbell, 42, has been charged with O’Regan’s murder.
  • Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was killed in Tallhassee, Florida, on May 27. His friends and family shared how he was an energetic, giving person with a big heart.
  • Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black transgender woman was killed in Philadelphia, Pennsyania, on June 9. One personal friend posted online, “Dom was a unique and beautiful soul who I am lucky to have known personally. I am beside myself right now. We need to fight!! We need to do more!!!! We will get justice.”
  • Riah Milton, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Liberty Township, Ohio on June 9. In March, she posted the status “Never been scared to struggle. Imma get it eventually” — a comment highlighting her resilience and optimism as a person facing a transphobic, misogynist and racist society.
  • Jayne Thompson, a 33-year old white transgender woman, was killed in Mesa County, Colorado, on May 9. She was killed by a Colorado State Patrol trooper and misgendered in initial news reports.
  • Selena Reyes-Hernandez, a 37-year old transgender woman, was killed in Chicago on May 31. “We have lost a beloved member of our trans family because of hate — hate that has corrupted our country’s soul and that shatters lives and futures every day,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
  • Brian “Egypt’ Powers, a 43-year old Black transgender person, was killed in Akron, Ohio, on June 13. Powers worked at a local catering company and is remembered for wearing long, colorful braids — “unicorn braids,” as Powers called them.
  • Brayla Stone, a 17-year old Black transgender girl, was found killed in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 25. “Brayla Stone was a child. A child, just beginning to live her life. A child of trans experience. A Black girl. A person who had hopes and dreams, plans and community,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. On September 4, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
  • Merci Mack, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Dallas, Texas, on June 30. Her loved ones shared how beautiful of a friend she was. On her social media, she had recently posted that she enjoyed baking and that she was looking forward to returning to work. On July 8, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
  • Shaki Peters, a 32-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Amite CIty, Louisiana, on July 1. “In just four days, we have seen the deaths of at least three transgender and gender non-conforming people, including Shaki Peters. This horrific spike in violence against our community must be an urgent call to action for every single person in this nation,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.
  • Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3. “These killings are being fueled by the deadly combination of racism and transphobia, and they must cease. We must come together as a community and demand justice for those who were taken from us,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.
  • Summer Taylor, a white non-binary person, was in Seattle, Washington, on July 4. Taylor was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Taylor worked full time at Urban Animal veterinary hospital.
  • Marilyn Cazares was a transgender Latina killed in Brawley, California. Mindy Garcia, an aunt of Cazares, said she “loved to sing and dance” and “never bothered anyone.”
  • Dior H Ova, who some reports identify as Tiffany Harris, a Black transgender woman, was killed in the Bronx, New York. According to her Facebook, Ova loved fashion — listing her career as a personal shopper and posting photos with luxury fashion brands that she loved. On August 13, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.
  • Queasha D Hardy, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 27. Hardy, a hairstylist, was extremely loved by her community. Friends and loved ones describe her as loyal, loving, “always smiling,” “the life of all parties” and “truly one of a kind.”
  • Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, who sometimes used the name Rocky Rhone, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Portland, Oregon, on July 28. According to Facebook, she studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and was the owner and founder of International Barbie, a Portland-based clothing brand.
  • Lea Rayshon Daye, a 28-year old Black transgender woman, died in Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, Ohio on August 30. “Lea’s death is unacceptable. Increased risk factors such as homelessness, combined with racism, sexism and transphobia, conspired to lead to a death that never should have happened,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
  • Kee Sam, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Lafeyette, Louisiana, on August 12. “We must all speak up in support of trans and gender non-conforming people and affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
  • Aerrion Burnett, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Indepedence, Missouri, on September 19. Her friends and family shared “if you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.”
  • Mia Green, a 29-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Philadelphia on September 28. Her friends and family shared how “her smile was so perfect and so contagious. She made me laugh.”
  • Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman from Puerto Rico in her mid-30s, was killed in San Germán, Puerto Rico on September 30. “This level of violence— any level of violence — is unacceptable. We are not doing enough to protect transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially trans women,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
  • Felycya Harris, a 33-year old transgender woman, was killed in Augusta, Georgia in October. Felycya was an interior decorator who ran her own company where she enjoyed lending her eye to improve the surroundings of others, and made others feel comfortable in their own space.
  • Brooklyn Deshuna, 20, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 7. Brooklyn attended Bossier Parish Community College and studied cosmetology.
  • Sara Blackwood, a transgender woman, was killed in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 11, recognized as National Coming Out Day. She enjoyed playing video games and was a fan of the show “My Little Pony.”
  • Angel Unique, a 25-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 25. A licensed cosmetologist, friends and family of Angel remembered her for being “very funny, very nice to everybody she met” and “such a bright person [with] a positive spirit.”
  • Skylar Heath, a 20-year-old Black trans woman killed on Nov. 4 in Miami, Fl., was described as a “kind and gentle soul” who “had such a love for family and close friends.” Skylar had a “warm personality” and a “friendly spirit,” and brought people who knew her “so much joy.”
  • Yunieski Carey Herrera, also known as Yuni Carey, a 39-year old Latina transgender woman was killed in Miami, Fl. on Nov. 17. Herrera was a well-known model, performer, dancer and activist loved by the LGBTQ community in Miami. A friend of Herrera described her as “besides being strikingly beautiful, she was kind and she was good.”
  • Asia Jynae Foster, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed on November 20 in Houston, Texas. Her death occurred on Trans Day of Remembrance, a day created to honor those in our community taken by violence. Asia was remembered during a candlelight vigil where family and friends described her as “a beacon of light in their community.”
  • Chae’Meshia Simms, a Black transgender woman in her 30s, was killed on Nov. 23 in Richmond, Virginia. Simms, who sometimes used the nickname “ChaeChae,” was close with her family and friends. They remembered her on social media as “good,” “kind” and “caring.”

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After Transphobic Attack, Laverne Cox Speaks Out, Says It’s Not Safe To Be Trans No Matter Where Or Who You Are

Entertainment

After Transphobic Attack, Laverne Cox Speaks Out, Says It’s Not Safe To Be Trans No Matter Where Or Who You Are

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

In a gut wrenching Instagram video, Laverne Cox admits something that few of us like to acknowledge: that no matter where or who you are, the world is a dangerous place for transgendered people.

The Instagram post came just days after Cox and a friend were physically attacked while walking in an LA neighborhood. And despite Cox being a popular and well-known figure in the entertainment industry (she’s a major star of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black) and in the LGBTQ community, Cox admits that she’s often afraid for her safety.

Unfortunately, the data backs her up with transgendered individuals being among the most targeted groups for bullying, hate crimes, and even anti-trans legislation.

Laverne Cox and a friend were targeted in a transphobic attack. in Los Angeles.

Transgender people face danger every day, even if they’re famous. And this past weekend, Laverne Cox was the victim of a transphobic attack in Los Angeles. The Orange Is the New Black star opened up about the incident in an Instagram video, telling fans that she is fine but still “in shock” and “super triggered” from the attack that happened over the weekend.

According to Cox, as she and a friend were walking through Griffith Park in Los Angeles, a man approached them to ask what time it was. “The friend who I’m with looks at his watch and tells him the time,” Cox recalled, “and then the guy who asked for the time says to my friend, ‘Guy or girl?'”

The friend, whom Cox wished to keep anonymous, told the man to “fuck off” and was then attacked by the man.

“I’m kind of in shock,” Cox said in the Instagram video. “I’m walking, I’m hearing all of this is happening like in a split second and then all of a sudden the guy is attacking my friend.”

“I pull out my phone and call 911 … All of a sudden it’s over and the guy is gone. I put my phone away and I’m like: ‘What just happened?’”

After processing the attack, Cox said she and her friend agreed that he was being aggressive and was trying to figure out whether or not Cox was transgender. “I don’t know why it matters,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s like, who cares? I’m in a hoodie and yoga pants, I’m completely covered up, I’ve got my mask on — who cares if I’m trans? How does this affect your life?”

Sadly – though not surprisingly – this was not the first time Cox has experienced this sort of hatred.

Over the years, the actor has been vocal about how she’s been subject to bullying and transphobia-fueled attacks, especially while she was in school. During a 2014 ABC special, she revealed that she was treated so poorly that she attempted suicide due to shame about her identity. “The suicide attempt happened when I was in sixth grade and I was having all these feelings about other boys,” she said. “And I didn’t want to live.”

She told her followers that, “I have a long history of harassment. It’s not safe in the world and I don’t like to think about that a lot but it is the truth. It’s the truth, you’re not safe if you are a trans person. Obviously, I know this well.”

This year Cox released Disclosure, a Netflix documentary on trans representation. The documentary criticised Hollywood’s history of transgender stereotypes and tropes. “We need more trans folks working behind the scenes – directing, producing, below the line positions, just more,” she told the Guardian in June. “And more representation in positions of power.”

Trans people across the country suffer from staggering rates of abuse and hatred.

Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

According to the National Center of Transgender Equality, at least 28 transgender and non-binary people were murdered, or were suspected to have been murdered, in just the first seven months of 2020 alone, a number that already surpasses the total for all of 2019 and shows how much danger trans people face daily.

In her video, Cox said that she was still stunned by the incident, but emphasized that this type of harassment is not the fault of trans people. “It doesn’t matter who you are — if you’re trans, you’re going to experience stuff like this,” she said. “It’s not your fault that people are not cool with you existing in the world. We have a right to walk in the park.”

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