Honoring Meraxes Medina, Young Trans Woman Killed In Los Angeles

by Jose Soto

Meraxes Medina, a 24-year-old Latina transgender woman, was called a “sister” by her friend Alisha Veneno on a GoFoundMe page, saying Meraxes “was more than just my friend.” According to her own Instagram account and a blog post by Pgh Lesbian Correspondents, Meraxes was a makeup artist who also worked at Universal Studios Hollywood, enjoyed shopping and watching the Jurassic Park movie series, and admired Shakira and Karol G.

Tragically, Meraxes’ body was found in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 21, 2024, in south Los Angeles, California, near West 70th and Figueroa Street. According to reports, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to a call at around 4:30 am, finding Meraxes suffering from a gunshot wound to the back of her head. She was taken to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead. In a recent Los Angeles Times article, it was reported that surveillance footage obtained from a nearby sports bar shows a person dragging Meraxes’ body out of a light-colored sedan onto a high school parking lot before driving off. Meraxes’ body laid on the ground in view of passing motorists for several minutes before police arrived at the scene. Though the Times article does not name Meraxes, her identity has been confirmed in a GoFundMe posted by loved ones.

Meraxes was a young woman who deserved to live out a long and fulfilling life. At just 24-years-old, she had so much more to give. Yet again, we find ourselves honoring the life and mourning the loss of someone from our transgender community killed by gun violence, and that alarming reality should emphasize our collective need to fight against lax gun laws. We need to come together and remind everyone, especially lawmakers and politicians, that our lives are worth saving and worth living.”

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

According to the Los Angeles Times article, police stated that the area where Meraxes’ body was found is known for having a history of sex trade activity. Meraxes’ body was one of two bodies found around the area within the same week, with the first happening late Tuesday on Hover Street, a block west from the Figueroa Corridor. The woman found on Tuesday was not transgender and was found with a broken fingernail and with a can of Mace nearby, suggesting a possible altercation. In the article, the Los Angeles Police Department stated that they believe Meraxes was shot in the car for “reasons that are unclear.”

Both Meraxes and the other victim were shot with a 9-millimeter firearm. Police are still investigating both cases and have received a general description of the car that drove off from where Meraxes’ body was found.

Meraxes is at least the fifth transgender or gender-expansive person to lose their life to fatal violence in 2024; we say “at least '' because, far too often, these deaths are underreported or misreported. Horrifically, Meraxes is at least the third trans or gender-expansive person to lose their life to fatal violence in just the past week, with her death occurring days after Alex Franco’s death in Utah on March 17, and Diamond Brigman’s death in Texas on March 16th. All three were killed by guns.

Gun violence far too often impacts the transgender and gender-expansive community. Since HRC began tracking fatal violence against the trans community in 2013, more than 70% of fatal violence victims– a total of 242 lives–were killed by firearms. In California alone, almost half of the 24 trans and gender-expansive victims of fatal violence HRC has identified since 2013 were killed by guns (45.8%, or 11 people). Though California boasts one of the lowest rates of gun-violence in the nation, as reported by Everytown for Gun Safety, gun related homicides in the state have increased by 33% over the last decade, with Hispanic/Latine people accounting for a third of all people killed by guns.

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 69 cases a day, according to a 2022 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation Support Fund, “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI recorded a record-high number of hate crimes related to gender identity, including a 33% jump in hate crimes on the basis of gender identity from the year before.

At the state and many municipal levels, transgender and gender-expansive people in California are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. California does include sexual orientation and/or gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. In June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, as a result of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses that year, over 80 of which were signed into law—more than in any other year. As of this writing, almost 430 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced into state houses since the beginning of 2024.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender-expansive community.

More resources:

  • Learn more about the fatal violence cases that HRC is tracking where details are unclear. You may find a list of these cases here.

  • Watch this PSA campaign elevating stories of trans joy and love.

  • Join HRC's Count Me In campaign to take action for transgender and non-binary people.

  • Read these guidelines and this FAQ for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.

Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.