Marcos Lugo, who also went by the name Kitty Monroe, was a 43-year-old Latine transgender person who was known for painting, singing, and having a great sense of humor. In April 2023, Kitty spoke about her experiences as a transgender person in a powerful interview for the YouTube channel Tales from the Streets. Tragically, Kitty was killed in Phoenix, Arizona on January 1, 2024. Her death is the first violent killing of a transgender or gender-expansive person HRC has learned of in 2024.
Marcos sometimes went by their birth name, presented as masculine, and used he/him pronouns, and sometimes went by Kitty Monroe, presenting in feminine dress and using she/her pronouns. In one notable interview, they explicitly identified as transgender, though largely used he/him pronouns with family members. At the time of their death, they were wearing feminine clothing, leading family members to suspect their gender presentation and/or gender identity may have played a role in their death. Because they were presenting as female at the time of their death, we use Kitty Monroe and she/her pronouns throughout this article.
According to Arizona Republic, Kitty’s sister described how Kitty would "cook for their mother, bathe her and occasionally do her hair and makeup,” and said that Kitty was “very protective, loving” and "would do the most just to make you feel comfortable." Kitty’s siblings have started a Gofundme for funeral expenses.
Kitty was killed during a fatal hit and run after being chased by suspects armed with guns. Her sister said she may have been targeted due to being transgender, as she had been attacked previously for her gender identity. Police are currently investigating.
At the state level, transgender and gender-expansive people in Arizona are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Arizona does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law–but gender identity is not included. 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 300 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.