HRC Mourns Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Trans Woman Killed in Puerto Rico

by Elliott Kozuch

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa, a transgender woman fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa, a transgender woman fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico yesterday. Ruiz is believed to be the second violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2020

“This is a horrifying crime that must be investigated with the utmost thoroughness and care. This victim, who has now been identified as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, was a human being, a member of a community, a friend and family member,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “She had dreams, hopes, hobbies and did not deserve to have her life taken from her. HRC has heard that Ruiz was experiencing homelessness, further highlighting the ways a toxic mix of transphobia and misogyny conspire to put the transgender community at risk of extreme violence.” 

According to Metro Puerto Rico, members of her community knew her as "humble" and "noble."

According to reports, Ruiz appeared to have been targeted by her killers after a social media post claimed a homeless transgender woman was using the women’s restroom. Her attackers followed her in a car, filmed the brutal killing and posted it online.

Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez tweeted that they are considering all possible motives in this crime, and have encouraged anyone with information on Ruiz’s death to contact local authorities.

According to the U.S. Trans Survey, 30 percent of respondents had experienced homelessness in their lifetimes. 

As we mourn this tragic loss, HRC is also closely monitoring the death of a transgender woman in Washington, D.C. on December 29, 2019. According to the latest reports, police are waiting to notify the woman’s next of kin before releasing her name publicly. 

In November 2019, ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, HRC Foundation released “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2019,” a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence. Sadly, 2019 saw at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported -- or misreported.

These victims are not just numbers or headlines. They were real people worthy of dignity and respect, of life and love. 

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels because it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.

HRC will continue to hold the Trump-Pence administration and all elected officials who fuel the flames of hate accountable at the ballot box. 

This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- must cease.

For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit