Trans woman violently beaten, stoned and left to die by the road as violence spirals in Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

A trans woman was beaten, pummelled with stones and left to die by a highway in Maranhão, Brazil, earlier this month.

Estefane ‘Stephanie’ Borges, 20, was found unconscious by a resort along the BR-222 in the northeastern state.

Passers-by, local authorities said according to local media, found Borges in a wooded nook near the resort of Juçara in Chapadinha, just outside a corner lock room entrance. She was found to be in “agonising pain” activists said.

Loved ones rushed to the scene and sped her to a nearby Unidade de Pronto Atendimento, a healthcare facility, where she is in a serious condition at the time of writing. The Polícia Civil, the country’s investigative state police agency, has opened an investigation.

Trans violence has soared in a Brazil led by Jair Bolsonaro – and it’s getting worse each passing year

She was gunned down after masked men burst into a bar. She was shot seven times as she stood outside her apartment. She was thrown out of a 7th-floor building.

Around 152 trans people have been killed in Brazil in the last year, monitoring groups say, as transphobic violence swells with a ferocity that is deeply alarming activists. The death toll is a startling and sobering figure for a nation now seemingly inured to transphobia, and it has been swelling for years.

But the figures may be even higher, activists say. Many killings of trans Brazilians are mishandled by the authorities – victims misgendered and deadnames used in police records, rippling into media reports – meaning that deaths can go unreported.

Last year, Brazil was found to be the deadliest country for trans people, with some tallies suggesting that a trans person dies almost every day in a nation of 200 million.

Unsurprising, activists say, considering the rise of Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s president who is a self-described “proud homophobe”. He often singles out LGBT+ people for the kind of vitriol once directed by populists towards migrants in the last decade.