January 15, 2021

Pedro Julio Serrano
Spokesperson, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s

Mary Emily O’Hara
Rapid Response Manager, GLAAD

Seven Transgender People Murdered in Puerto Rico Over Past Year; Puerto Rico Para Tod@s declares “state of emergency for gender violence and hate crimes.” 

January 15, 2020 -- In solidarity with the LGBTQ advocacy group Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, GLAAD, the LGBTQ media advocacy organization, calls on media and law enforcement to investigate recent murders of transgender people in Puerto Rico. Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, a trans man who was found shot to death on January 9th in Trujillo Alto, is the latest in a string of victims of anti-trans violence.

Valentín’s death is the seventh killing of a trans person in Puerto Rico in the span of one year, and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s has declared “a state of emergency for gender violence and hate crimes'' on the island. The victims so far include Valentín, Michelle Ramos Vargas, Alexa Negron Luciano, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Yampi Méndez Arocho, and Penélope Díaz Ramírez.

“The police and the mainstream media continue to misgender trans victims. Enough is enough,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@as. “The government needs to declare a state of emergency on gender violence and hate crimes in Puerto Rico to stop this wave of transphobic, misogynist and homophobic crimes.”

“The violence claiming trans people’s lives in Puerto Rico is disturbing and heartbreaking,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Federal and local law enforcement, elected officials, and media should pay close attention to the seven murders of trans people on the island over the span of one year. GLAAD stands with Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy groups in calling for hate crimes investigations into the deaths of Samuel, Alexa, Michelle, Serena, Layla, Yampi, and Penélope.”

In May 2020, after an investigation by the Police of Puerto Rico and the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted two men—Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla and Sean Díaz de León—under federal hate crimes law for the murders of Serena and Layla. But most of the crimes remain unsolved. And while Alexa Negron’s death caught the attention of notable Puerto Ricans and stateside politicians, both media and law enforcement in Puerto Rico have misgendered victims, and police have failed to identify the victims as LGBTQ or to investigate the role of anti-trans hatred in the killings. 

In February 2020, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny wore a shirt during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that read, “Mataron a Alexa, no a un hombre con falda,” (translation: “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt,”) in an attempt to draw attention to the case. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren also tweeted about Negron’s murder that month, saying it was part of a growing epidemic and that “We must use every tool we have to end it and protect trans women of color. #SeLlamabaAlexa.”

GLAAD continues to monitor the violence in Puerto Rico in partnership with local LGBTQ advocates. 

About Puerto Rico Para Tod@s:

Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, one of the island’s leading LGBTQI+ organizations, advocates for social justice and human rights for everyone.