Honoring Rubi Dominguez, “A Happy, Social, Humorous Person”

by Violet Lhant

Rubi Dominguez, a Latina transgender woman, was described by her sister Monica as “a happy, social, humorous person” who “made people laugh.” According to TransGriot, Rubi was killed in a hit and run car crash in Arlington, Texas, on July 16, 2021. Dominguez’s death is at least the 54th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. Yet even with this limitation, for the second consecutive year, in 2021, HRC officially recorded the largest number of fatal trans violence incidents in a year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.

Rubi’s sister Monica spoke with Telemundo and said, “It hurts me a lot.” She called for justice and said that “I think whoever was in our place would understand the pain and anger we have.” She also had a message for the suspect, saying, “Make yourself responsible because it has caused great pain in my family, both emotionally and psychologically. It’s something irreparable.”

It is a tragedy that we are reporting on yet another member of our community killed in 2021. Even worse, the suspect fled the scene and has not taken responsibility for ending Rubi’s life. Rubi deserved better, both in life and in death. We will honor her memory and call for a greater respect for life, and for transgender and non-binary people.”

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

The Arlington Police Department is encouraging those with information to contact Crash Investigator S. Bridges at 817-575-8602 or Sgt. J. Brown at 817-575-8815. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of Tarrant County at 817-469-8477 (TIPS) and reference Arlington Police Department report #2021-01970061.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Dominguez was misgendered in some media and police reports. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Texas are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. While Texas does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not expressly include gender identity. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 90 of which directly target transgender people. May 2021 set a record as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in recent history.

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 non-conforming community.

In addition to the incidents of fatal violence that we track each year, HRC monitors several concerning deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people where details are unclear. We call for further investigation into these cases, which currently stand at 14--7 of which occurred in 2021. You may find a list of these cases here.

In order to work towards this goal and combat stigma against transgender and non-binary people, HRC has collaborated with WarnerMedia on a PSA campaign to lift up their voices and stories. Learn more and watch the PSAs here.

HRC has also launched the “Count Me In” campaign to encourage everyone, LGBTQ people and allies, to get loud, get visible and spread awareness on behalf of transgender and non-binary people. The more people who show they care, including allies and trans and non-binary people who speak up for the most marginalized in our community, the more hearts and minds we will change. Learn more and take action at hrc.org/CountMeIn.

For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.