Transgender woman Monica Loera, 43, was shot and killed on Jan. 22 outside her home in North Austin, Texas, making her the first trans woman to be murdered this year, according to blogger Monica Roberts.
Though she was killed more than a week ago, news of her murder has taken some time to reach the trans community and still has not been widely reported, partly because she was both deadnamed (or referred to by the name given to her at birth and not the name she identified with) and mis-gendered by police and in immediate local media reports that followed. The Austin Chronicle writes:
Reading the arrest affidavit or local news reports about the death, you’d have no idea that the victim was a transgender woman. The wild curls and wide grins from her Facebook page – and above all else, her chosen name – have been omitted to a staggering degree. Instead Loera has been described using her birth name and masculine pronouns.
Last year, at least 22 trans women were murdered across the United States, including 19 trans women of color like Loera, according to the New York City Anti-Violence Project. Advocates told Fusion last year that they are concerned that violence against trans women, and trans women of color in particular, is on the rise.
The Revolutionary Alliance of Trans People, a trans community group, is planning to hold a vigil and rally in honor of Loera on Feb. 12. The group wrote in a Facebook post:
Fear. Anger. Resignation. Sorrow. These are understandable emotions facing trans people and sex workers upon the news of the murder of sister Monica Loera. Austin has become home to "the first trans murder of 2016." And the disposability of this working-class trans Latina was only further exposed by her callous and disrespectful treatment even in death by the Austin Police Department and the media in a campaign of misgendering, deadnaming, and erasure—treatment which has long-been cornerstone to the death of trans women.
A suspect in Loera's murder, JonCasey William Rowell, 29, has been arrested by police and charged with first degree murder, Dallas Voice reported, and is being held on $250,000 bond. Advocates say that the real number of trans victims of murder is likely higher than the figures recorded by police, because trans people are commonly mis-gendered and deadnamed by police.