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Puerto Rican Afro-Latina Trans Woman Chanell Perez Ortiz Fatally Shot

Puerto Rican Afro-Latina Trans Woman Chanell Perez Ortiz Fatally Shot

Chanell Perez Ortiz

She was found along a road behind a university campus.

Afro-Latina transgender woman Chanell Perez Ortiz, 29, was shot to death on June 25 in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Her body was found along a highway behind a university campus, local media report. She had multiple bullet wounds. The majority of violent deaths of trans Americans involve guns.

Perez Ortiz worked as a cosmetologist and was keenly interested in fashion, often posting quotes from the famed fashion designer Coco Chanel on social media. “Chanell shared a lot of playful, fun content, and clearly had strong friendships with people who are grieving her deeply,” Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondentsnotes. Her family and friends called her by the affectionate nickname Uvita.

Police are looking into the possibility that her death was a hate crime motivated by her gender identity, as her loved ones have urged them to do. The U.S. territory’s hate-crimes law covers bias crimes due to gender identity, but prosecutors rarely apply the law, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“Although the details of Chanell’s death are still being investigated, it is devastating that another trans woman has lost her life to senseless violence,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “In the face of tragedy, we choose to celebrate Chanell’s life while we acknowledge that these tragedies must stop.”

“It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women,” HRC’s release notes. “The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.”

She and trans man Jacob Williamson, killed this week, are the 13th and 14th trans people known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year. There are likely many more unknown victims, as deaths likely go unreported or misreported due to deadnaming and misgendering. Perez Ortiz was misgendered in some police and media reports.

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