Activists ‘demand justice’ after trans woman is beaten and strangled to death in her own home

A person flies an LGBT+ Pride flag in Venezuela

A trans woman has been found beaten and strangled to death in her own home, kindling long-held fears of Venezuela tipping into violence.

Valentina Gámez, 39, was found dead in her home 10 August evening by family members in San Cristóbal, the capital city of the mountainous western state of Táchira.

Her relatives had spent the night desperately ringing her mobile phone only to encounter silence, fuelling concern over her wellbeing.

Entering the property on Vista Hermosa Street in the Paramillo neighbourhood, her loved ones discovered her lifeless body covered in bruises and dried blood, Diario La Nación reported.

Gámez had suffered blows to her face and much of her body, with signs of strangulation observed, according to Policía Nacional Bolivariana, Venezuela’s national police force.

Officers arrived at the scene shortly after and ruled her death a homicide. No known motivations for the killing have been identified by investigators, with the case being referred to the Cicpc Bolívar Homicide Axis, a top police agency specialising in forensics.

As the front door to her home, owned by her mother, had not been tampered with, detectives said it is possible that the victim knew her attacker. Theft has also not been ruled out.

Activists ‘demand justice’ as trans woman’s death fuels fear of more tragedy to come

Gámez is at least the fourth trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person violently slain in Venezuela this year alone, according to Nunca Dejes de Soña, a national LGBT+ organisation.

“They are killing us!” the group tweeted in response to Gámez’s passing.

“We demand justice! Our lives matter!”

The attack comes just less than a month after Elizabeth Rondón, a 33-year-old trans vegetable seller, was brutally dismembered by her own friends moments after going for drinks with them.

She was a quiet but charismatic woman, her loved ones recalled, whose life was ended by those who were “bothered” about her being trans.

For Nunca Dejes de Soña, a group already familiar with threats to its members’ safety, Gámez’s death is a painful reminder of how trans Venezuelans are among the most marginalised groups in society.

“Trans women are one of the most vulnerated, violated, persecuted and attacked marginalized groups in our society,” the group told PinkNews in a statement.

“They are bullied, mocked, discriminated against, kicked out of their houses, denied jobs, denied the right to their identity and, even after death, denied the basic respect to their identities by being misgendered and deadnamed in the media.

“Every person deserves security. Every person deserves to live their life fully and without fear.

“And while we mourn the absence of yet another one of our sisters, we must keep fighting for a nation and a world where no girl – cis or trans – has to wake up in fear that they won’t survive another day.”