candlelight vigilPost submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern

On Sunday, 200 friends and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil mourning the death of Yazmin Shanchez, a transgender woman.

Shanchez, 31, was found dead behind a garbage container in Fort Myers, Florida. Her body was found burned. Fort Myers police are investigating the incident as a homicide, but not as a hate crime.

Around 200 people gathered for the vigil at Centennial Park in Fort Myers. The vigil was organized by the Southwest Florida Equality Coalition and The Center of Southwest Florida and began with a walk through downtown Fort Myers, to the courthouse, and back to the park. Participants expressed support for both Shanchez’s family and the larger LGBT community. Some voiced concerns that the homicide was a hate crime committed against the LGBT community, especially the transgender community. 

Last week, hundreds mourned the death of transgender activist Zoraida Reyes. Reyes was a passionate transgender and immigration reform activist in Anaheim, California. Her death sparked a national dialogue with vigils being held in Phoenix and San Francisco as well.

Transgender women, especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately subjected to violence – making up more than half of all anti-LGBT homicides in the US according to NCAVP. In addition to anti-transgender violence, trans people of color earn less than $10,000 a year and face severe job discrimination ­– 32 percent lost a job and 48 percent were not hired due to bias. Since Rita Hester’s murder in 1998, The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is a global event held in November to remember those who have been victims of anti-transgender violence.

To find out more information about HRC’s work on Hate Crimes, visit

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