Transgender Woman Shot Dead In Puerto Rico After Using Women’s Bathroom In McDonald’s
A transgender woman was shot dead just hours after someone called police to report her using the women’s bathroom at a McDonald’s restaurant.
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa, was shot and killed on Monday morning, February 24, in Toa Baja on the northern coast of Puerto Rico.
A video that appeared to capture Ruiz’s killing was shared on social media. During the clip, unidentified speakers seemed to misgender Ruiz, apparently saying, ‘We are going to shoot you up’ and ‘You bet I am going to go and shoot him’.
The voices are followed by the sound of a gun being loaded and at least 10 shots being fired, NBC News reports. Police are currently investigating the footage.
Hours before the shooting, Ruiz was reported to police for allegedly ‘peeping’ on people in the McDonald’s bathroom.
David Begnaud of CBS News reported police found no evidence to support the allegations against Ruiz. The person who filed the complaint is said to have declined to press charges after they learned Ruiz was homeless.
On Tuesday, February 25, Puerto Rican police announced they had received tips that suggested four teenagers were involved in Ruiz’s death.
LGBTQ+ activist Pedro Julio Serrano shared a statement about Ruiz on his website and demanded authorities investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
He claimed Ruiz had been ‘stalked and hunted’, adding (translated):
We must denounce the hate speech of the fundamentalist groups that have promoted a climate where they prosecute and persecute a trans person for the mere fact of using a bathroom.
Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative at Human Rights Campaign (HRC), also commented on the shooting, stating:
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.
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 the HRC, Ruiz is believed to be the second victim of violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2020.
The circumstances surrounding the report against Ruiz are unclear, though it should be noted one of the main reasons people are against gender-neutral restrooms, or allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice, is because of unfounded fears it will prevent women from being ‘safe’ when going to the bathroom.
Transgender activist Paris Lees has argued these fears are a figment of the imagination, writing in The Guardian:
If you’re living in Britain… you have almost certainly used a public toilet at the same time as a trans person and not even realised. It doesn’t have to be a big deal unless you make it one.
Police are currently investigating the incident.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected].
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Pedro Julio Serrano