Maria Jose Rivera Rivera: Trans Latinx woman killed in apparent murder-suicide

Maria Jose

A young trans woman has been found dead at her home in Houston, Texas in an alleged murder-suicide at the hands of her partner.

The body of 22-year-old Maria Jose Rivera Rivera was found on 21 January, but according to local news sources she may have lay dead for up to three days.

Neighbours of the young woman, originally from El Salvador, reported odour coming from her home and noticed her mail had piled up, local media reports.

Rivera’s immigration lawyer Cristian Sanchez has claimed in a statement to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that all evidence indicates she was killed by her partner, however her cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Sanchez’s statement added that Rivera was a “joy to work with”.

“My heart hurts from her loss. Transgender people who are immigrants suffer two levels of oppression and marginalisation from society. This makes them especially vulnerable to harm,” Sanchez said.

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Maria Jose Rivera Rivera is reportedly the sixth transgender person to die by violence in the US this year. Tragically, it’s likely there are many more, with trans and non-binary people being deadnamed and misgendered after death.

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, has also spoken out about about the tragedy.

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“Maria Jose was looking to build a life in America, but that dream was shattered… transgender and non-binary people deserve a society that values their lives.”

Trans people across the world targeted and killed

Between 1 October, 2021 and 30 September, 2022 at least 327 trans and gender-diverse people have been killed across the world just for being themselves. 

Transgender Europe (TGEU) released the figures from its Trans Murder Monitoring project ahead of Trans Day of Remembrance, on Sunday (20 November).

The data shows Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the most murder cases at 222. Of those, 96 were reported in Brazil, more than any other country.

Mexico reported 56 murders, while the US reported 51 – more than the entire continent of Asia (40), according to the report. (The HRC, which uses a different calendar, has recorded 32 American deaths since the beginning of 2022.)

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