HRC Blog

Mourning the Death of Transgender Immigrant Activist Zoraida Reyes

Zoraida ReyesPost submitted by Jacob Tobia, HRC Foundation Intern

Zoraida “Ale” Reyes, a 28-year-old transgender and immigration reform activist, was found dead last week in Anaheim, California. Last Friday, hundreds of Reyes’ friends and supporters, including her mother, gathered for a candlelight vigil to commemorate her life. Holding signs that said “Trans Lives Matter” and “Love and Respect our Transgender Community,” they mourned the death of a friend, advocate, and fellow organizer. Reyes’ death has begun to spark a national dialogue, with additional vigils being held in Phoenix, AZ and San Francisco. 

A fierce advocate for the transgender community, Reyes was also an activist for the rights of undocumented students during her undergraduate career at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Locally, she organized with the Orange County DREAM Team and DeColores Queer Orange County(DCQOC), an advocacy group for LGBTQ Latin@ people living in the Orange County Area. Through working with DCQOC, Reyes frequently spoke out about the deportation and incarceration of LGBTQ immigrants in the United States.

"It's been a rough week," said Kevin O'Grady, Executive Director of The Orange County LGBT Center, "Unfortunately, this brings home to Orange County what happens across the nation every day. Transgender women are subject to murder, violence and attack. What I hope it does is bring the rest of the LGB community behind in support of the transgender community and that everybody stands together."

The investigation is still ongoing. According to the Los Angeles Times, an autopsy has been completed but no cause of death has yet been determined by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Earlier this week, a group of Reyes’ friends and loved ones launched an online fundraising campaign to pay for the cost of Reyes’ funeral. To donate to the fund, visit www.gofundme.com/Zoraida.

To find out more information about HRC’s work on Hate Crimes, visit www.hrc.org/topics/hate-crimes.

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