Stella Maxwell
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Trans Woman Murdered in Puerto Rico, Third This Month

Bayamon correctional complex

Another transgender person has been murdered in Puerto Rico, the third this month and the fifth this year.

Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a 31-year-old trans woman, was killed at the Bayamon correctional complex April 13, according to a Human Rights Campaign blog post. Her death was not reported until Monday. No other details were available.

Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Pelaez’s bodies were found in a car under a bridge last week in the town of Humacao. The women, both transgender, had been shot and their car set on fire.

In February, Alexa Negrón Luciano, a homeless trans woman, was shot to death in the Puerto Rican town of Toa Baja, hours after being reported to police for using a women’s restroom at a McDonald’s. In March, trans man Yampi Méndez Arocho was fatally shot in another town in the U.S. territory, Moca. Activists say at least eight LGBTQ people have been murdered in Puerto Rico in the past 15 months.

"”Never in my career have I seen so many reports of deaths of our transgender and gender-nonconforming community in such a short time in one location,” Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative,” said in the post. “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. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people, especially women of color, are too often the victims of a toxic mix of transphobia, racism, and misogyny. People and policy must work together to protect our lives and our well-being. HRC stands in solidarity with all who knew and loved Penélope, and we will continue our tireless fight to ensure a future where living one’s truth can never become a death sentence.”

“There is no longer any doubt, this is an epidemic of anti-LGBTTIQ violence,” added Pedro Julio Serrano of the Coalition for the Search for Equity, a Puerto Rican LGBTQ group. “The police have the obligation to disclose the status of the investigations of at least eight murders, one death without a determined cause, and several attacks in which LGBTTIQ people have been injured since January 2019.”

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