Puerto Rico experienced its 30th anti-LGBTQ homicide in the past ten years when the body of transwoman Malena Suarez was found dead in her home in Carolina with multiple stab wounds in her back. Ten of those murders have been in the last two years, according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Puerto Rico officials have not yet classified any of the homicides as hate crimes under either local law or the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And before anyone asks, "Yes. Puerto Rico is part of the United States."
Suarez was a volunteer with the transgender advocacy organization Transexuales y Transgeneros en Marcha (TTM). It is reportedly unclear how long she had been dead when the body was found.
TTM members believe that Suarez was killed because she was transgender. Local media reports have not acknowledged Suarez's transgender identity, continuing a trend of inaccurate media reports of transgender victims of violence in Puerto Rico.
Not only Puerto Rico has this problem of disrespecting transgender victims of homicide. Authorities everywhere seem to believe they are required to identify us by our birth sex.
Hate violence is not only deadly, but it affects the entire community. The transgender community in Puerto Rico is extremely terrorized by this violence, we fear for our lives, and our government is not taking action to protect us.Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz, TTM spokesperson
NCAVP has documented 11 murders of transgender women in the contiguous United States so far in 2012. In 2011 transwomen accounted for 40% of the 30 reported hate murders, while being only 10% of the survivors of hate violence. Twenty-six of the hate murder victims in 2011 (87%) were LGBTQ people of color.
NCAVP has asked the FBI to investigate the Suarez murder...as it has the other homicides.
But as much as they may try in Puerto Rico, nobody does the killing of transpeople like Brazil. One might think the champion transwomen-haters were in Guatemala or Hondurus because of the viciousness they display there, but the sheer number of dead transwomen in Brazil easily tops that.
On October 19 it was Madona's turn to take a trip to the death zone. Being a well-known and well-liked fixture of Aracaju nightlife was not sufficient to stay the hands of attackers, who pelted her with cobblestones in that capital city of the Brazilian state of Sergipe. Madona, 39, died in a hospital on October 23 from severe head injuries she had received.
Stoned to death. Really?
There are no suspects.
She was a very funny, happy person, who loved to dance and be playful, she didn’t hurt anyone.Maria Livia Vieria, neighbor
Madona lived in an abandoned, partially collapsed, house after being deserted along with two brothers by their parents. One brother was allegedly poisoned to death.
Here we feel will really miss him because he was very respectful of us, was a very good person. Always say, 'I respect my community'.Dona Terezinha dos Santos Silva, neighbor
The general situation was captured by Keila Simpson, president of the National Counsel to Combat Discrimination.
The situation in Brazil is very different from any other part of the world.
Trans people are the smallest and most vulnerable part of the LGBT Brazilian communities, making up a mere tenth, yet we suffer from the highest incidence of violence and murder. Since January we have had over 100 transgender people murdered here – that means over 10 people murdered every month.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the murders are not crime of passion at all, but the murderers are people who didn’t know their victims. Some are clients [of sex work] or others simply people that don’t like transgender people.
We have to develop principally in the Brazilian population awareness to respect difference, because here in Brazil this does not yet exist. People here in Brazil think that if they don’t like someone, like a trans person, they have a right to murder. Murders occur because they go often unpunished – simply put: homophobic and transphobic hate is not a criminal offense. The murder of LGBT people, and in particular trans, happens because of the inefficient Brazilian law and order systems.Simpson