HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latina transgender woman who was killed in Los Angeles, California on March 17. Her death is at least the 12th violent death of a transgender or non-binary person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
Friends and family are remembering Rayanna on social media. A former colleague from Starbucks shared that as co-workers, they had an “amazing time together.” A friend shared, “thank you for all the beautiful memories and moments.” According to The Advocate, the TransLatin@ Coalition and Rayanna’s friends and family held a candlelight vigil in her memory on March 20. “Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself,” said Trans Latin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo. “Everyone should love everyone,” said Armando Rangel Jr., Rayanna’s brother. “At the end of the day, that’s all we have.”
HRC recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.
The full circumstances surrounding Rayanna’s death are still emerging, but security camera footage shows her being followed by a group of people as she walked down a street, where she was then hit by a car and killed. Rayanna’s family is advocating for the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate further, as they believe the group following her may have been harassing her, and she may have run into the street to avoid them. Her family also believes she may have been pushed into the street. Her family says that Rayanna often faced harassment simply for living her truth as a transgender woman.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Rayanna was misgendered and misnamed 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 California are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. California also has a hate crimes law that expressly addresses hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at many levels of government, recent weeks have seen some gains that support and affirm transgender people.
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 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.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.