Trans teenager, only 17, fatally shot ‘at point-blank range in the head’ in Brazil

Trans Day of Visibility 2021

A trans teenager just 17-years-old was shot in Sergipe, Brazil, in what is a grisly reminder of life in the deadliest country in the world to be trans.

Gabbi Mattos was fatally shot in the early hours of Saturday (19 February) in Aracaju, the capital of the northeast state, the Military Police fo Sergipe said.

Officials said that the teen was slain outside the Orlinha do Bairro Industrial, a beachside district along the Sergpipe River. As two armed individuals scuffled at a party nearby, the two began to shoot at one another.

And a stray bullet struck Mattos, killing her instantly, the Department of Homicide and Protection of the Person, of the Civil Police of the State of Sergipe, confirmed to A8S Sergpipe, a local news outlet.

Activists, however, say otherwise.

They alleged that nearby restaurant and police surveillance cameras were “not working,” meaning that no footage was caught of the incident – but a reported witness video showed one of the armed individuals running towards the teen to shoot her at “point-blank range in the head“.

Another witness told Linda Brasil, the first trans woman elected to the Aracaju city council, that the two people exchanging fire at the scene rode a black motorcycle. One was described as having a black moustache.

People hold up an LGBT+ Pride flag during a march

Brazil is one of the deadliest places to be LGBT+, according to activists. (Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“We want the facts,” Brasil stressed in an emotional Twitter thread. “Holding the perpetrators of these brutal and inconceivable cases to account is crucial to combating transphobic violence.”

The victim’s body has since been taken by the Forensic Medical Institute (IML), the national autopsy agency, for further investigation.

2021 was the deadliest year for fatal violence against trans people since global record-keeping began, according to a report from Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvTW), a Transgender Europe project.

And Brazil, as it has for years now, remained the most dangerous place to be trans in the world, with the group tallying at least 125 trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming murders in the nation.

A record 144 transgender people were murdered in 2016, Rede Trans, a website that monitors attacks on trans people, found. When the site began recording cases in 2008, the figure was 57.

“Behind the statistical representation of numbers and percentages,” the TvTW report authors wrote, “there are people whose lives we value and who we, as societies, failed to protect.”