In Guatemala, frustration and grief swept the nation after two beloved and tireless trans activists were killed in two separate attacks just days apart.
Andrea González, a 28-year-old who helmed trans rights group Otrans Reinas de la Noche, or Queens of the Night, was slain in what some activists have called an “assassination” in Guatemala City last Friday (11 June).
She was killed only metres from her home between 11th Avenue and Second Street in zone two of the capital city.
Her death has provoked increased vigilance among trans Guatemalans, with Presna Comunitaria reporting that a second member of Otrans Reinas de la Noche, Cecy Ixpata, was also killed only days before.
Ixpata, the outlet said, died from sustained injuries in a hospital in Salamá, the capital of the Baja Verapaz region, on 9 June following a separate attack.
A years-long member of advocacy group Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Personas Trans, or RedLacTrans, Ixpata was found beaten inside a local produce market, found fighting for her life by a fruit and vegetable merchant.
While described by her fellow activists as a “fighter” and “undisputed leader”, González was a torch-bearer of the Guatemalan LGBT+ rights movement, also working at RedLacTrans with Ixpata.
A member of Cristosal, a research-led human rights group in Central America, González was remembered for her spirited work with US federal and diplomatic agencies.
The US Embassy of Guatemala said in a Twitter statement that she was a fellow of the International Visitor Leadership Program of the US State Department and a collaborator with the US Agency for International Development.
“The US embassy in Guatemala supports LGBT+ people and calls for respect and tolerance so that these people have a life with dignity, inclusion and equality,” the statement read.
But in her death, local media reports were riddled with deadnaming and misgendering – emergency services even misgendering her in official statements. For trans folk whose lives end in such violent ways, this is all too common, only compounding the sense of tragedy.
‘We’ve lost a fight, a leader’
The deaths of both González and Ixpata have touched off a national outcry against transphobia in the country, with US officials and local activists alike locking arms to condemn the killings.
“The murder of our friend Andrea has hit us deep inside,” Otrans Reinas de la Noche said in a statement to the press.
“We’ve lost a fighter, an undisputed leader.”
“We condemn the outrageous murders of two transgender women in Guatemala,” said acting assistant secretary for the US State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung on Twitter.
“We believe all such violence must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. Particularly saddening as we celebrate the contributions of LGBT+ activists around the world during Pride Month.”
The Guatemala office of the United Nations Development Programme also paid tribute to González, someone who the agency said “dedicated her life to the promotion and defence of human rights in Guatemala, particularly trans people”.
“Andrea was a brilliant and courageous leader,” said Rainbow Refugee, which supports queer asylum seekers in Canada, in a Facebook statement.
“Fiercely loved and respected by her community, she will be profoundly missed and mourned.”