The Human Rights Campaign tweeted, "Three trans women lost their lives within the span of a week in Puerto Rico. This epidemic of hate and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people must cease."
But there isn't actually an epidemic of identity based violence against trans persons, and the Human Rights Campaign not only knows this, but continues to peddle this narrative despite its obvious falsehood.
Citing that five of the nine known murders of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the United States in 2020 have occurred in Puerto Rico, HRC president Alphonso David tweeted, "There can be no doubt that transgender people—especially trans women of color—are living in crisis, which local & national leaders must urgently address. As we mourn those lost, we demand immediate action to protect all members of our community."
HRC clarifies that the reports of annual records shows that these murders are committed by people the victim knows, including through domestic violence, not primarily by complete strangers involving a clear anti-transgender bias. It also recognizes that dangerous environmental dangers like homelessness, poverty and sex-work are to blame.
The HRC acknowledges the majority of murders of trans people are not anti-trans motivated, but insists on screaming to the LGBT world an "epidemic of anti-trans violence" to push a political narrative. In public messaging they continue to portray the problem as "hatred" and the solution they propose involves vague action by authorities to stop said hatred.
In response to two deaths, that of 21-year-old Layla Peláez and 32-year-old Serena Angelique Velázquez, found in a burnt car in southeast Puerto Rico, spokesman for the LGBT group Broad Committee for the Search for Equity, Pedro Julio Serrano, declared "They are hunting us." Police investigation has found no evidence to explain the circumstances surrounding the deaths, or the motivation behind them.
One month prior, 19-year-old Angélica Marie Méndez, also known as Yampi Méndez Arocho, a transgender man, was shot several hours after being in an altercation with an unnamed woman. The police have not found evidence the two events are related or any suspects for the shooting. The police were contacted during the altercation, but no further information is available to fill in the time between.
One month prior to that, Alexa Negrón Luciano, a transgender woman identified as male by her family and police investigators, appears to have been the target of anti-transgender bias. Police were called when a witness believed she saw a homeless person "peeping" on her in the women's restroom at a McDonalds. The witness stated the transwoman was "[C]rouched under the bathroom door with a mirror to spy on women in the women’s restroom." After the police arrived and learned the individual was homeless, the complainant dropped charges.
Known as Alexa, she was a popular target of mockery on social media, often photographed engaging in odd behavior. After social media posts of the alleged spying in the woman’s restroom, police believe a group of young men surrounded her and shot her, filming themselves and posting the recording onto social media. The suspects have not yet been identified but the police believe the posted video to be legitimate and they are investigating. The most recent death was that of Penélope Díaz Ramírez, an inmate at the Bayamon correctional complex. No further information has been provided.
What we see is a string of dissimilar events linked together through confirmation bias. The key component of transgender identity appears to be sufficient information for LGBT advocates to conclude that if one murder was of a hate crime nature, the rest must be as well and their proximity in time together validates the belief in a coordinated threat. But in reality these deaths do not appear to have anything in common.
The calls for authorities to act to stop violence against transgender women under the argument of an epidemic of identity based violence is irrational as there is nothing that can be done to stop random violence. The police have taken each death seriously and no victim is receiving less priority based on their gender identity. The specifying of “transwomen of color” is manipulation of heightened emotions rather than genuine advocacy as it is disingenuous to argue Latino victims were specifically targeted as part of a pattern of racism in the United States when their murders occurred in a majority Latino country.
There is no action that could be taken to prevent the completely unrelated murders of people who happen to be transgender. This in no way devalues their lives but recognizes them as equal tragedies in all random and senseless violence and murder. But LGBT advocates must stop exploiting these deaths to push social agendas and media narratives of hate-motivated violence that simply does not represent the facts. They recognize the conflict with their reporting and the facts of each case, but it appears they are more interested in the headlines they can present to the world instead.
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