Gruesome murders of two transgender women in Mexico, just days apart, leaves trans community ‘terrified’

Trans people in Mexico fear for their safety after the killings

The trans community in Mexico is in mourning after two women were brutally murdered within days of each other.

Leslie Rocha was killed on Saturday (5 September) in Ciudad Juarez – a city located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The killing came just days after a trans rights group staged a protest in the city, sparked by the killing of trans woman Mireya Rodriguez Lemus, who was found murdered in her home near Chihuahua City last week.

Trans woman ‘tortured to death’ in gruesome Mexico murder, family say.

Rocha’s aunt Leticia Sanchez told Reuters: “They’re torturing them, they’re killing them horribly.

“Justice must be had because they deserve respect. Why are they doing this?”

One anonymous Ciudad Juarez trans woman told Reuters people were “a little scared, a little terrified” to go out on the streets after the killing.

She said: “We don’t know what to do anymore because there are so many hate crimes against the trans population.”

Trans activist Deborah Alvarez added: “You can’t imagine what all us trans people have lived through to arrive here, for us still to see that we haven’t been defended.”

Trans people in Mexico fear for their safety

Trans people in Mexico fear for their safety (Ricardo Castelan Cruz /Getty Images)

Addressing the first murder, Alvarez had said previously: “We are not asking, we are demanding that this hate crime against our sister Mireya Rodriguez be solved. Enough is enough. We are citizens, too.”

At least four transgender women are believed to have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez so far this year, but activists say police are reluctant to treat the killings as hate crimes, and often attempt to pass them off as drug-related.

Police did not return a Reuters request for comment.

Murder is a gruesome reality for LGBT+ people in Mexico.

Data previously collated by LGBT+ anti-violence group Letra Esse suggested that at least 117 LGBT+ people were brutally murdered in Mexico in 2019, in what activists are dubbing the deadliest year on record in half a decade.

The report by Letra Esse showed that the surge was up nearly a third (27 per cent) from 2018 and the highest figure since 2015. The group warned, however, that real figure might be even higher.

Trans women – one of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities in Mexico – accounted for more than half of the murders, the group said. While a third of the victims were gay men.

Letra Esse director Alejandro Brito said: “We’ve documented that victims are subjected to multiple forms of violence, before or even after they were murdered.

“There is a cruelty towards the victims.”