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Two Transgender Women Murdered in Puerto Rico


In the wake of the murder of two transgender women this week, NCTE today urges the government of Puerto Rico to increase its efforts to protect transgender residents from violence and discrimination and to fully investigate these murders.

“Transgender people should be able to live their lives without fear of violence or discrimination,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, NCTE’s deputy executive director for policy and action. “The government of Puerto Rico has an obligation and a duty to take these violent crimes seriously, to investigate them thoroughly and with sensitivity, and to increase its efforts to protect transgender people from violence and discrimination. It is up to all of us to call attention to this violence and to hold authorities accountable for keeping their communities safe for everyone.”

Serena Angelique Velázquez and Layla Pelaez were found murdered in a car under a bridge in the town of Humacao, according to a report from Primera Hora, a Puerto Rican newspaper. The two had been shot.

Four transgender people have been killed in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year, and eight in the last 15 months, according to the Los Angeles Blade.

Alexa, a trans woman who was homeless, was brutally murdered in the municipality of Toa Baja on Feb. 24 after a video was made public in which at least two men were heard mocking and threating her. Yampi Méndez Arocho, a trans man, was killed in the municipality of Moca on March 5, the Los Angeles Blade reported.

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