Authorities in Puerto Rico on Wednesday confirmed another
transgender person has been murdered in the U.S. commonwealth.
The Associated Press reported
the body of Michelle “Michellyn” Ramos Vargas, 33, was
found along a highway in San Germán, a municipality in southwest Puerto Rico.
Ramos is the sixth trans person murdered in Puerto Rico
since the beginning of the year.
Alexa Negrón Luciano, a homeless trans woman, was killed in Toa Baja on Feb. 24.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a trans woman, was killed in a jail in the San Juan suburb of Bayamón on April 13. Authorities in Humacao on April 22 found the bodies of two trans women, Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Pelaez, in Pelaez’s car that had been set on fire.
Yampi Méndez Arocho, a trans man, was killed in Moca on
The two men accused of killing Velázquez and Pelaez have been charged under the federal hate crimes law.
Puerto Rico’s hate crimes law includes both sexual orientation and gender identity, but local prosecutors rarely apply it. Activists have sharply criticized outgoing Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and other pro-statehood New Progressive Party lawmakers over their response to the murders, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and general violence towards LGBTQ Puerto Ricans.
“They are violating us, they are hunting us and they
are killing us while Wanda Vázquez and her government turn a blind eye,”
said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican
LGBTQ advocacy group, in a statement.
Latino Commission on AIDS President Guillermo Chacón in a
statement said “transphobia is not unique to Puerto Rico.”
“We see it throughout the U.S. and need to make a
commitment to stop the consequences of hate and violence,” he said. “Zero
tolerance to hate and violence. Zero transphobia. Justice for Michellyn.”
Arianna’s Center, a South Florida-based trans advocacy group that works in Puerto Rico, also mourned Ramos.
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