In Mexico City, a Community Rallies in Wake of Two Horrifying Trans Murders
Andalusia Knoll Soloff - Broadly.VICE
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November 28, 2016

Protesters at a march demanding justice for trans victims of hate crimes (Andalusia Knoll)

On November 13, 2015, Alessa Flores took to the stage to celebrate Mexico City's newly declared Día de la Población Trans (Spanish for "Trans People Day"). Flores, a sex worker and activist, had been involved in a years-long campaign to pressure the local government to respect the rights of transgender people. She had been invited to the public inauguration with the city's mayor, which was announced as part of its ongoing initiative to make the city more LGBTQ-friendly - the local government had also committed to guaranteeing trans people access to mental health and legal resources, as well as official identification that reflects their gender identity. On that day, the 27 year old proudly held a flag that said, "No more trans deaths."

Eleven months later, Flores was found strangled in a Mexico City hotel. Her murder came just two weeks after the killing of Paola Ledezma, a 25-year-old trans sex worker originally from Campeche, a southern Mexico border state.

In response to Ledezma's death, a few dozen trans sex workers, activists, and allies paraded her open casket through downtown Mexico City in early October, stopping traffic and making headlines all over the world. It sparked an ongoing wave of protests against transphobic violence in the Mexican capital, including a November 13 demonstration where activists symbolically laid a large rainbow flag and high heeled shoes in front of the nation's most historic church in the city's central plaza.

"We have been waiting generations [for transphobic violence to end] and we just can't wait any longer," says Kenya Cuevas, a sex worker and activist who has helped to organize the recent demonstrations after atending the protest for Ledezma in October.

Cuevas became friends with Ledezma shortly after the latter had arrived in Mexico City. The pair worked the same street corners and spent their free time dancing, drinking, and hanging out with each other. According to Cuevas, Ledezma's last john had offered Cuevas approximately 200 pesos (around $10) for a trick earlier. She had rejected the price, but Ledezma accepted and got into his car.

Minutes later, Cuevas says, she heard shots ring out and ran to the man's vehicle, only to find Ledezma slumped lifelessly in the car. Her client was in the driver's seat, holding a gun. Police detained the man as a suspect, but he was set free when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to continue with the case.

According to the Mexico Global Impunity Index, 99 percent of all crimes in the country go unpunished. This shocking level of impunity adds up to lethal equation for the trans community, which already faces widespread social prejudice. The organization Transgender Europe documented 217 murders of trans men and women in Mexico between 2008 and 2016, ranking it the second deadliest country in the world for trans people after Brazil. Rocio Suárez, a spokesperson from the Mexico City-based pressure group Center of Support for Trans Identities, tells Broadly that 12 trans people have been killed in October of this year alone.

Read the rest at Broadly.VICE

Related: Here's a Great Way to Explain What Transgender Means to Kids (The Huffington Post)

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