(Noted News) — Killings of trans people have hit an all-time high in the US, with Puerto Rico being at the epicenter.
USA Today reports that Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a former drag queen from San Juan, was found hanged and beaten in a male prison in Bayamon after being assigned to the facility contrary to her gender identity.
“She was an excellent drag queen, and an amazing lip-syncer and choreographer, too,” Ramírez’s friend Vasquez said. “She was in the process of transitioning, and trying to live her true life as a female.”
The death of Ramírez was the ninth of fourty-four trans killings in the US in 2020, a historic record.
Reasons for Puerto Rico’s disproportionate anti-transgender violence are unclear, but local trans-rights advocates point to transphobia stemming from religious fundamentalism and traditional conservative values. In addition, the economic effects from COVID-19 restrictions linger in Puerto Rico and the country at large.
Former San Juan Mayor Camen Yulín Cruz Soto said that “The transgender community is the most discriminated within the LGBT community, and Puerto Rico is no exception.”
“There’s still a lot of conservative, religiously motivated thought. Legislators are too concerned about people’s sex lives when they should be concerned about protecting people’s rights to live their lives the way they want.”
According to the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, nine out of every ten victims of transgender killings are against transgender women, and black and brown transgender women account for two-thirds of all of them.
“It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color,” HRC stated. “The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia, and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.”
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, blames the anti-trans violence on what he says was anti-LGBT policies and rhetoric that came from the Trump administration.
“The reasons we are seeing increased attacks on transgender and gender-nonconforming people is because they have been demonized and demoralized by the White House of the last four years,” David said. “When you stigmatize and dehumanize people, it’s much easier for others to do the same.”
Transgender and trans activists hope to find a new pro-LGBTQ agenda coming from President Biden that contrasts with the former administration. In his April 28th speech to congress, Biden addressed trans people, saying
“I also hope Congress will get to my desk the equality act to protect LGBTQ Americans. To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people, you’re so great. I want you to know your president has your back. Another thing. Let’s authorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law for 27 years. 27 years ago, I wrote it. It’ll close the act that has to be authorized now will close the boyfriend loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.”