March 20, 2022

Alexa Negron Luciano // 102 // Se Llamaba Alexa

Alexa Negron Luciano // 102 // Se Llamaba Alexa

29-year-old Alexa Negron Luciano was a transgender woman who was murdered in the city of Toa Baja.  She was homeless and used a mirror to check her surroundings.  Alexa was accused of peeping under a bathroom stall at a McDonald's but police confirmed that there's no evidence of this.  Alexa was murdered less than 12 hours after this incident and it was her birthday.

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29 year old Alexa Negron Luciano also known as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz was a homeless, trangender woman who was murdered in the city of Toa Baja. Original reports released by the police and local media misgendered Alexa by saying she was “a man dressed in a black skirt.” She often walked the streets of Puerto Rico neighborhoods, hunched over, wearing a towel over her hair. She was well-known around town and on social media because people would take photos of her and comment on them, calling her an oddball or a bag lady. Alexa was estranged form her family and neighbors reported suspected abuse during her childhood. One of Alexa's friends told CBS that she carried a mirror with her to check her surroundings and keep her safe. Most people that met Alexa described her as humble, soft-spoken, polite, and seemed to be suffering from depression. 


A woman at a McDonald's filed a complaint against Alexa for using the women's bathroom. This person claimed that Alexa was using a mirror to peep under the stalls, but police say there is no proof that this ever happened. Also, this woman claimed she wasn't interested in pressing charges when they got there. Police arrived around 5:15 PM to investigate and approached Alexa at a table. Photos of this encounter were posted on social media and people were saying nasty things about Alexa. Such as: “crazy guy dressed as a woman” “Be careful and watchout” Carlos Javier Fret wrote about Alexa on Facebook saying there was a pervert in the women's bathroom. It gained a lot of traction and suddenly, people are commenting on this post and threatening violence and murder. They were saying they were afraid for their safety and their children's safety. This post went viral and less than 12 hours later, Alexa was dead.


Carlos has completely distanced himself form this situation and said he didn't intend to cause harm to Alexa and he has filed a complaint for online harassment. We do not ever condone online harassment or bullying, no matter what. This is a prime example of what words can do. What spreading hate can do. That night, Alexa was framed in the headlights of a car, and shot to death while people were laughing at her. A video of this encounter showed up on Youtube and you can hear people taunting and threatening Alexa, then there's gunshots. She had been standing beneath an abandoned fruit-stand tent as a car was driving by. The men in the video recognized Alexa from social media, so they shouted derogatory comments at her while recording the incident on their phone. The trio left to obtain a paintball gun and returned to the tent.


In the video, voices can be heard saying things like, “We are going to shoot you up.” “Let's spin the tires on this motherfucker.”, “You bet I am going to go and shoot him.” These vile words were followed by at least 10 gunshots.

At 3:50 AM on Feb 24th, 2020, police received an anonymous tip that a body was lying on the side of the road about a mile from the McDonald's. They also learned that three teenagers were involved in the crime. 


Governor Wanda Vazquez (vas-kez) described this case as “sad, cruel and insensitive.” She said, “This is a violence against women, without a doubt.” The governor said this murder would be investigated as a hate crime. I read a New York Times article that says there is still a group of powerful conservative Christians on the island that are extremely vocal about pushing back against moves to be more inclusive. There was a project to conduct sensitivity training for the police and it didn't really go anywhere. It was also proposed that they do gender-based curriculum for public schools and religious leaders put a stop to this. Thomas J. Bryan, was a lawyer who previously worked on this issue for years and he said, “The problem in Puerto Rico comes from a group of fundamentalist religious leaders who are against any progressive idea to resolve this kind of situation. This is what brings this intolerance out to the open, this kind of homophobia.”


Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican singer and rapper who wore a shirt to draw attention on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The shirt, written in Spanish read, “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt.”


A man named Nandy Torres actually met Alexa before this all happened and he got a video of their encounter. At this point, Alexa is lying on a bench and she appears to be terrified that someone has approached her. He says, “I would like to know how I can help you, if you accept the help. What's going on with you” Alexa says, “ Depression.” 

Nandy says,”Do you have a family?”

Alexa says, “ No, I don't...they abandoned me.”


Nandy watched all of the hate spreading like wildfire on the internet on the night of Alexa's murder. He said, “I want to believe that all of what has happened to Alexa, my friend, my sister-people change their way of thinking.” He was asked during an interview what he learned from Alexa and he said, “The true pain of a human being, who I appreciated. She re-ignited the flame within me, the fire to keep my feet on the ground and keep trying to be a better person.” 


Alexa's death has sparked outrage and has drawn attention from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren who wrote on Twitter, “I'm heartsick for Alexa and her loved ones. This epidemic keeps growing. We must use every tool we have to end it and protect trans women of color.” 


A Legislator, Maria M Charbonier (shar-bone-yay), suggested that transgender people should stick to the bathrooms that match their anatomy. During a radio interview, she said, “I am a woman, I do not enter men's bathrooms.” Not only do I think this is a horrible thing to say, especially when you're in a position of power, but she seems to be corrupt anyways. She was arrested for receiving $100k in bribes and kickbacks. She had a whole scheme going on and was facing charges for theft, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. While she was serving as a representative, she attempted to ban same-sex marriage. 


Chances are, you have been in a bathroom with a transgender person and had no idea. People aren't crying out about this due to safety reasons. This is an issue that might challenge you to think different. Maybe it's not something you were taught growing up, but it just doesn't directly effect you unless you are the one that's transgender. So what are we fighting about? Can't we break the rules and start being kind to people? I've personally seen men in the women's bathroom. I'm not even talking about someone who is transgender. I have seen men in women's bathroom and it makes no difference to me unless they get handsy. I have used the men's bathroom more times than I can count and it's never been an issue.


2021 is the deadliest year on record for transgender people. Advocates have warned that the totals can actually be flawed because transgender murders are often reported inaccurately and the person may be misgendered by the police and media. Also, many hate crimes and murders go unreported. In 2021, it's reported that 375 transgender people were killed. One in four of those murdered, were killed in their own homes. 

-91% of cases were black women

-81% were under 30 years old


The suspects that have been charged in Alexa's murder are Anthony Steven Lobos Ruiz, Jordany Rafael Laboy Garcia, and Christian Yamaurie Rivera Otero. The three 18 year old men were charged under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 for harrassing Alexa and we covered the case of James Byrd Jr. on episode 9 Since the video was uploaded to social media, it wasn't difficult to figure out who may be involved, but the three suspects told the police that they didn't hear a a real gun on the video, they were only hearing a paint gun and someone else must have killed Alexa. On the day of the murder, Anthony sent a text expressing concerns that they were all going to be accused of Alexa's murder and then he deleted the messages. The three men were arrested on August 6th, 2021 and charged with conspiracy to commit a hate crime against Alexa. In court documents, prosecutors said the suspects made the victim the, “target of their assault because of her actual and perceived gender identity.” It was stated in an article by The United States of Department of Justice that if convicted, the defendants face a max sentence of 10 years in prison for the hate crime charge, five years in prison for the conspiracy charge, and a fine up to $250k with respect to each charge. If convicted, Christian and Anthony also face a max sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250k for the obstruction of justice.


Since you can't see the gun in the Youtube video, police say they aren't sure if the noise is a pellet gun, paintball gun, or a handgun with a silencer. 12 9mm bullet casings were found at the scene of the crime and Alexa had several gunshot wounds. Police believe that the three men that have been charged either committed the murder or knew exactly who did.


A Puerto Rican transgender named Maria told CBS in an interview, “we might not be killed, but a lot of us live feeling like we're dead. We don't even have access to identify ourselves. We lose respect from our families, from our friends. We have a hard time going to the bathroom, we have a hard time getting a job, we have a hard time building a life in general.” 


Human Rights Campaign released an annual report on the epidemic of Anti-Transgender Violence. The HRC President Alphonso David said, “While the details of the cases documented in this report differ, the toxic intersection of racism, sexism, transphobia and easy access to guns conspire to deny so many members of the transgender and gender non-conforming community access to housing, employment and other necessities to survive and thrive. Every one of these lives cut tragically short reinforces the urgent need for action on all fronts to end this epidemic-from lawmakers and law enforcement, to the media and our communities.”


Alexa's family has not commented on anything, they won't talk about who Alexa was and that's why we know very little about her. They did have to identify her body and had her cremated and they didn't have a funeral for her. 


Numerous vigils and commemorations were held in Alexa's honor and many people from the transgender community showed up to show their support. Within a few days, the story of Alexa's murder spread worldwide and people were outraged. Activists say she was marginalized in more ways than one: She was black, poor, homeless and believed to have been living with a mental illness. Activists point out that Alexa's story serves as a reminder of the brutal truth that transphobia, racism, and a misunderstanding of neurodiversity are thriving. Neurodiversity is typically used in the context of autistic spectrum disorders and it refers to the idea that neurological differences reflect normal variations in brain development. 


On the evening of Alexa's murder, an altar was constructed to honor her. A crowd of people gathered and shared their personal stories about the challenges they have faced and they mourned for Alexa. An image of her half-smiling was placed inside a wreath and illuminated beside a tapestry of candles, flowers, handwritten notes, and a line of handheld mirrors. Later, a cake was added beneath the wreath and the crowd sang Happy Birthday because Alexa was murdered on her 29th birthday.

To honor Alexa and combat the misgendering of trans people in news reports, her supporters are using the hashtag #SeLlamabaAlexa (say-ya-ma-bah) which means her name was Alexa. 


FUN FACTS:

I always see the argument that you can't use the they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun and people think this is something that was recently made up. It turns out that the singular they can be found everywhere, even in the 14th century. It's used by several famous writers such as Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and many others. Jane Austen uses they in the singular 75 times in Pride and Prejudice and this novel is from 1813. Using the correct pronouns is a way to show a person that they belong and are validated.


Some animals can change their gender. Clownfish live in groups where there's a sexually mature male and female and the rest are smaller, sexually immature males. If something happens to the female, the male will transform into female and find another male to become her partner. 


I listened to the audiobook of Trans Like Me: Conversations for All of Us

It's a very eye opening book where they talked about about real life experiences and all the way the trans community is treated and talked to. It should be a gift to learn from others and their experiences.

Unconditional love should be the norm, not the exception.

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