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Trans Woman Paloma Vazquez Fatally Shot in Houston

Image of Paloma

Vazquez was found dead in her apartment Saturday. She had been shot multiple times.


A transgender woman was shot to death in Houston over the weekend, and she is at least the fifth trans American to die by violence in 2022.

The woman's name was not released when her death was initially publicized, but Houston TV station KTRK reported Friday that her name is Paloma Vazquez. She was 29.

The Harris County medical examiner determined she died of multiple gunshot wounds, including to her head. Her body was found by her boyfriend Saturday evening at her apartment in southwest Houston, KTRK reported earlier. Police are still searching for a suspect.

Vazquez had been in the U.S. just six months and had fled anti-trans violence in Latin America, friends said at a vigil for her in front of Houston City Hall Thursday night, according to the station. They did not specify which country she was from.

"She had just moved into her new apartment and was very excited about decorating," friend Gia Pacheco said. Pacheco and other friends said trans women in Latin America are frequently victims of violence.

"There's a lot of transphobia in Latin America," Valentin Terrazas told the station. "They come here for refuge and to better their lives and have a future here." Vazquez was active in a local trans group, the Organization for Latina Trans in Texas.

Activists are commenting on the epidemic of violence against trans people, especially Black and Latinx women. "Here is another transgender woman that's murdered and shot," activist Ma'Janae Chambers told KTRK. "Angry, because why? Why are you targeting trans women? Why? Sadness, because another life is lost." A friend of hers, 22-year-old trans woman Asia Foster, was a homicide victim in 2020.

"Transgender women, especially Black women, are more likely to experience homelessness and be more likely to be discriminated against by the homeless system," added Courtney Sellers, executive director of Montrose Grace Place, which serves homeless young people of all genders and sexual identities. "Texas is one of the deadliest places in America for trans women, and that's important to look at."

Trans women who have died by violence in the state in recent years include Rubi Dominguez, Cypress Ramos, Aidelen Evans, Muhlaysia Booker, Kier Solomon, Za'niyah Williams, Tiffany Thomas, Miss CoCo, Iris Santos, Helle Jae O'Regan, and Merci Mack, among many others. Nationwide, there were 56 such deaths reported in 2021, a record, and the actual number is likely higher because of deadnaming, misgendering, and lack of reporting in general.

Houston police ask that people with information about Vazquez's death contact the police department's homicide division at (713) 308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.

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