Trangender Rights Flag
As deaths of queer and transgender people increase in regions around the world, an organization in the Latin American region made up of parents of LGBTQ individuals are pushing for anti-discrimination laws aimed to keep queer people safe. This is a representational image. Reuters

One word describes the beginning of 2024 for Mexico— violence. Authorities in the country reported at least three transgender killings in the first two weeks of January, and human rights groups are investigating the possibilities of two other such cases.

The latest death came on Sunday, when transgender activist and politician Samantha Gomez Fonseca was shot and slain inside a car in the south of Mexico, AP News reported.

Over 100 activists gathered in Mexico City for what was originally intended to be a manifestation and demand for greater acceptance in society. The event quickly turned into a call for justice and more comprehensive hate crime laws in the country.

Protesters chanted "Samantha, listen, we are fighting for you," while others held up signs that read brief yet poignant statements like "trans lives matter."

"It feels like violence is knocking on our front door," said Paulina Carrazco, a 41-year-old trans woman who attended the marches. "We are scared, but with that fear we're going to keep fighting. We're going to do everything in our power so the next generations won't have to live in fear."

The murder on Sunday comes just a few days after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador described a transgender congresswoman as "man dressed as a woman," prompting criticism towardshim.

Transgender activist Miriam Nohemi Rios was also shot to death last week while working in her business in the central Mexican state of Michoacan.

On Saturday, authorities in the central state of Jalisco said they found a transgender person's body laying in a ravine with gunshot wounds.

Rights groups such as Letra S have reported two other cases of hate crimes in January, both of which were not immediately confirmed by law enforcement.

Letra S documented the killing of transgender stylist Gaby Ortiz, whose body was found in the Hidalgo state. They report her body was found on the side of the road next to a "threatening message" written on a piece of cardboard.

Another transgender woman known as "Ivonne" was slain alongside her partner in the southern state of Veracruz, according to the National Observatory of Hate Crimes Against LGBTI people.

Attacks of this nature are not rare in Mexico, a country known for its "macho" culture and traditionally Catholic beliefs. Over the past six years, Letra S has documented at least 513 targeted killings of LGBTQ+ people in the country. Last year, the murder of Ociel Baena, one of the most recognizable LBGTQ+ figures in Mexico also sparked outrage and a wave of protests.

But even when attacks do not result in death, LGBTQ+ citizens still report a high rate of discrimination and prejudice.

Xomalia Ramirez, a 55-year-old transgender woman and Spanish teacher from the southern state of Oaxaca, says her bosses more often than not ignore her gender identity, and even force her to wear men's clothes to work.

"If I want to work, I have to disguise myself as a man," Ramirez said. "If I don't, I won't eat."

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