Mar 11th, 2020, 10:36 PM

Her Name Was Alexa

By Paulina Trigos
Illustration of Alexa Negrón Luciano. Image Credit: Nivea Ortiz / @nivea_ortiz
The murder of Alexa Luciano reveals the intensity of hate crimes and injustices against the LGBTTIQA+ community.

In the early morning of February 24, police received an anonymous report of a body laying on the side of a road in the town of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Alexa Negrón Luciano, a 29-year-old Transgender woman, had been shot multiple times in what we now know was most definitely a hate crime against women and members of the LGBTTIQA+ community. 

Sadly, Alexa was the focus of cyberbullying and various online threats, clearly showing a great level of transphobia. The day before her murder, Alexa faced some serious online accusations as someone had posted pictures of her being questioned by the police. After using the women's restroom in a fast-food restaurant, Alexa was accused of supposedly peeping at another customer in the stalls. The baseless post went viral and the number of hateful comments increased. Hours after this incident, a video was circulated of Alexa getting harassed during her final hours, the clip ending with the sound of gunshots. 

"I was shocked, because it had only been a whole day since that post of her being accused of being a sexual predator had surfaced and went viral. That state of shock then turned into a sort of numbness and desensitization when hearing about the way that she was murdered, especially since it was filmed and uploaded to social media," commented Puerto Rican Drag performer Ángel Cruz, professionally known as Ubi Aaron, when asked how she felt upon hearing of Alexa's murder. 


Alexa, who used a handheld mirror to watch her back and to check her surroundings, was unjustly branded a “peeping tom” when all she wanted to do was protect herself against those who wished to harm her. Instead of researching her story and gathering actual facts, people took things out of context and judged the book by the cover they wanted to see, blinded by their own ignorance. "Since the assassination of Alexa, there has not been a day gone by without crying," commented Christopher M. Korber, a Puerto Rican trans man who publicly speaks out about these injustices in hopes of spreading awareness. 

Alexa, also known as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, is not the only victim of a transphobic hate crime. Recently, a 19-year-old transgender man called Yampi Méndez Arocho was found dead in Moca, another sector of the island of Puerto Rico. The frequency of hate crimes continues to rise, not only on the island but all around the globe, where discrimination and injustice are ever so present. But what can we learn from this and how do we move forward towards the road to justice? 

Alexa’s murder has received international coverage as many influential figures such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and actress Indya Moore have commented on this tragic incident. “This epidemic keeps growing. We must use every tool we have to end it and protect trans women of color,” commented the Senator on Twitter. Alexa, a member of the marginalized communities of black, homeless and transgender people, was also believed to suffer from a mental illness. This serves as a reminder to all about the lacking awareness there is surrounding the realities of racism, transphobia and mental health issues. 


"As soon I found out she was murdered, and I kept talking to people about it, I just knew it would be forgotten by the general public in a matter of hours, and the police and higher figures of authority would not care about it or even bat an eye if the name Alexa ever came up again," remarked Ubi. After almost 3 weeks of Alexa’s murder, no one has been held accountable and the suspects of this hateful crime have been released. In addition to this, there has been a recurrent misgendering of the victims in official reports and in the press, which has caused significant outrage in social media. 

The hashtag #SeLlamabaAlexa, which translates to “her name was Alexa,” has been used to condemn the media as they called her “a man in a skirt” and many who called her a “crazy guy dressed as a woman.” 

Although police are currently investigating the cases of Alexa, Yampi and other victims and the FBI has recently opened a hate crime investigation, many wonder if these crimes against the LGBTTIQA+ community will truly be solved or if they will simply be discarded and ignored as others have. "Justice with their assassinations has not been made; all while one of the most vulnerable communities can only ponder who could be next," retorted Korber. 


LGBTTIQA+ individuals suffer discrimination every single day. Mislabeled, misgendered and sometimes cruelly shunned due to transphobia, the community deserves all the support one can muster. "It’s not about creating tolerance, but understanding the diversity around us," asserted Korber.

Even though victims like Alexa are no longer with us and have been wrongfully forgotten by the mainstream media and people in power, it is our duty to keep their memory alive and work hand in hand with the community in order to proclaim justice.

"The police still have the cases of Alexa and Yampi archived as cases under their assigned sex at birth rather than their expressed transgender identities," stated Korber, who has also suffered this same misgendering injustice himself.

"I want for people to realize that lives were lost, very valuable ones, especially because of the political, economic and social conditions that the trans community is subjected to on a daily basis because of how they were born, how they present themselves to the world and how they choose to live their lives," said Ubi. 

Right now, members of the trans community feel an increased level of danger due to the lack of transparency and constant threats faced by both Alexa and Yampi, highlighting the protection they need during these trying times. "Let’s to learn to listen, learn to speak, and let’s learn to be heard. Nevertheless, let’s raise our voices for those who can’t or those who won’t ever be able to do it. It’s only fair, and it’s everybody’s right to," concluded Ubi.