Karine Jean-Pierre
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Trans Latina Martina Caldera's Death Adds to 2021's Record Total

Martina Caldera

Yet another transgender American has been confirmed as a victim of fatal violence in 2021, bringing the year’s already record total to 56.

Martina Caldera, 38, was found dead December 6 near a highway overpass in Channelview, Texas, a suburb of Houston, TV station KPRC reports. Investigators with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office initially believed she was hit by a car, but they then discovered she had been shot several times.

Her family held a demonstration at the site this month to call attention to her death and to demand justice. Noel Caldera, one of her brothers, said he believes she was shot elsewhere and her body dumped by the overpass. He and other relatives said Martina was in a relationship with a married man, and they wondered if that put her in danger.

The family members expressed love and acceptance for Martina, even though they used male pronouns in referring to her. “We didn’t care [she] was transgendered,” her other brother, Paul Caldera, told KPRC. Noel said Martina was a loving person and fun to be with.

Other friends and family noted on social media that she worked two full-time jobs, loved the music of Selena, and more than anything else loved her family. She had “a heart of gold,” one wrote.

“Martina Caldera was a kind person who was full of life, and her family will remember her dearly,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “We need more answers about her death, but we already know the factors that too often result in the in deaths of transgender and nonbinary people. Intimate partner violence, gun violence and stigma against transgender and nonbinary people all contribute to this deadly environment. We must work to reduce these factors and protect our most vulnerable communities.”

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate. Officers ask that anyone with information call the homicide unit at (713) 274-9100.

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