HRC Mourns Yampi Méndez Arocho, Trans Man Killed in Puerto Rico

by Elliott Kozuch

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old transgender man killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5.

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old transgender man killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho’s death is believed to be the third violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2020 and the second in Puerto Rico. Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa, was killed in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico last month.

On social media, Arocho shared his love for basketball and the NBA -- donning Miami Heat apparel. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”

According to reports, Arocho was allegedly assaulted five hours prior to his death -- and his mother contacted the police in response to that assault. There is little information about what happened between this investigation and his eventual death. Local LGBTQ advocates are calling for authorities to thoroughly investigate this crime, including an investigation into whether or not this was a bias-motivated crime. 

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Arocho was misgendered in some media reports. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment too often seen from media, law enforcement and our highest elected officials. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.

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.

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