Post submitted by Ernesto Zelayandia, HRC Global Fellow
The Human Rights Campaign mourns the tragic death of transgender activist Diana Sacayán, who was one of the most prominent figures of the LGBT rights movement in Argentina. A leader and an advocate for human rights, justice and equality, Sacayán was a leader of Argentina’s Anti-Discrimination Liberation Movement (MAL) and also served as the alternate representative of the Trans Secretariat on the Board of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Sacayán was found murdered in her apartment in the neighborhood of Caballito in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, October 13, with her body showing signs of violence and stab wounds. Her murder is the third known killing of a transgender woman in Argentina in less than two months, as reported by the Washington Blade. Advocates are asking the authorities to handle the case as a femicide, the killing of a woman because of her gender.
Amancay Diana Sacayán was one of the most outspoken figures of the trans movement in Argentina. Her most recent victory was passage of a law that would provide employment opportunities to thousands of transgender persons living in Buenos Aires. In 2012, after the gender recognition law was approved in Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez personally presented Sacayán with a national identity card that correctly reflected her gender identity.
Sacayán’s tragic death is a hard blow to the LGBT movement in Argentina and the region. Her outspoken activism, courage and passion for equality and human rights were widely recognized by both local and international civil society organizations.
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global expressed condolences to the Argentinian LGBTI community. “Diana’s death is sadly another example of the kind of violence transgender people face around the world. Even in places -- like Argentina -- that have a growing number of legal protections for LGBT people, we must work to combat hate, bias, and misunderstanding," said Cobb. "This is a deep loss to Argentina and the world."
Sacayán was buried on Wednesday, October 15 in Buenos Aires, and, according to local news sources, hundreds of people attended the burial. Her life was celebrated with rainbow flags and signs calling for an end to hate crimes. Her family and friends read a poem Sacayán wrote about a year ago: “When I’m gone I don’t want grief, I want colors, drinks and food in tons, that which I did not have when I was a child.”
This year in the United States, at least 20 murders of transgender women have been reported, the majority of which were women of color. HRC’s President Chad Griffin has called on the American people “to help bring an end to this violence before it claims even one more innocent soul.”
The 17th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will be observed in the United States on November 20. Once again, HRC will participate in commemorations as a tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred and violence.