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Trans man killed amid Puerto Rico’s ‘wave of homophobic and transphobic violence’

Puerto Rican police are investigating the loss of life of a transgender man discovered with a number of gunshot wounds Jan. 9.

A motorist was driving on an unlit part of freeway in Trujillo Alto, a municipality about 15 miles southeast of San Juan, when she hit one thing, in response to the native information web site WAPA. As she obtained out of the automotive, she realized it was a lifeless physique and notified authorities, who recognized the sufferer as Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín.

Police initially misgendered Damián, who listed on Facebook his present residence as Juncos, lower than 15 miles from Trujillo Alto.

Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín.by way of Facebook

Lt. José Padín, murder director with the felony investigation unit in close by Carolina, instructed the San Juan Daily Star that Damián “had no identifications nor were there family members who were able to identify him beforehand.” His mom and stepfather have been ultimately capable of establish his physique, however used his start identify, in response to the Star. “His mom told me that he would always prefer for others to call him Samuel, Sam or Sammy when he was out in the streets,” Padín mentioned.

No motive or suspects have been introduced.

Damián is the seventh identified transgender particular person to die by violence in Puerto Rico since final February, in response to the Transgender Law Center.

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of the LGBTQ advocacy group Puerto Rico Para Todas, mentioned police aren’t doing sufficient to handle “the wave of homophobic and transphobic violence that haunts us like never before.”

“Police fail to comply with their protocols and ignore, make invisible and minimize the serious problem,” Serrano wrote Monday in an announcement on his website calling on authorities to “investigate the hate angle in the murder” of Damián.

Puerto Rico’s hate crimes regulation consists of each sexual orientation and gender identification, however, according to Metro Weekly, native prosecutors hardly ever apply them.

After the charred stays of two trans girls have been discovered inside a burned-out automotive in Humacao final spring, the FBI stepped in to affix the investigation. In April, the suspects, Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla, 21, and Sean Díaz de León, 19, turned the primary folks in Puerto Rico to face federal hate crime charges.

The victims — Layla Peláez, 21, and Serena Angelique Velázquez, 32 — have been discovered simply days after one other transgender girl, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, was overwhelmed and hanged in a males’s jail in Bayamon.

In February, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also referred to as Alexa, was shot to death in Toa Alta at some point after being reported to police for utilizing the ladies’s toilet in a McDonald’s. Ruiz’s attackers reportedly posted video of the taking pictures on social media.

The following month, Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old transgender man, died in Moca after being shot twice within the face and twice within the again. Méndez had reportedly been assaulted by a girl simply hours earlier than the taking pictures.

The physique of nursing college pupil Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas was discovered late September close to a farm in San German within the southwest. Vargas had been repeatedly shot within the head and left on an remoted highway.

In 2020, at the very least 44 transgender and gender-nonconforming folks have been killed in within the United States, in response to the Human Rights Campaign, making it the deadliest 12 months for the reason that group started monitoring such deaths in 2013.

Damián is already the second identified trans particular person to die by violence this 12 months, following the loss of life of 28-year-old Tyianna Alexander, who was shot to loss of life in Chicago on Jan. 6.

The Transgender Law Center grieved Damian’s loss of life in a tweet Wednesday, writing, “We are horrified at what you experienced in your last moments. Trans men deserve dignity and the chance to thrive.”

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Damián posted on Facebook about his pleasure for the “new year to come.”

“[I’m] grateful for all the experiences that taught me how strong we really are,” he wrote. “To life, to good and bad, and for all justice that is to come forth.”

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