Gwen (née Eddie) Araujo
was 17 years old when
she was brutally beaten
to death by a group of
young men because she looked
like a woman but was biologically a
man. The Newark, Calif., teen allegedly had sexual relations with two
of the men before they discovered
her sex, which led to Araujo being
beaten over the head with a frying
pan, hit with a barbell, strangled
and dumped in a shallow grave,
where her body lay for three weeks
before being discovered.
That was in 2002, three years
after she came out to her family
and started living as a woman,
growing her hair long and wearing
crop tops and women’s jeans. For
all intents and purposes, she was
living her dream of being a woman.
Her tombstone is inscribed with
the name “Gwen Araujo.”
Brandon Teena was a 21-year-old
woman living as a man when he too
was killed because of his gender.
Born Teena Brandon in Lincoln,
Neb., he was raped and murdered by
acquaintances after they discovered
his true identity. His story was made
famous by the movie “Boys Don’t
Cry,” which starred Hilary Swank
as Teena in an Academy Award–
Each year, hundreds of transgender individuals are assaulted
simply because they look different.
In 2007, there were 288 reports
of crimes against transgender
Top: Araujo was 17 years old when she was brutally
beaten to death by a group of young men.
Bottom: Brandon Teena was 21 when he was killed.
individuals, according to the Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
in its report, “Anti-Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender Violence
in 2007.” And those are just the
crimes that are reported. The FBI
doesn’t list crime statistics for
transgender individuals, instead
grouping them into crimes against
the LGBT community.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded to honor
Rita Hester, whose 1998 murder
inspired a candlelight vigil in San
Francisco in 1999. Each year, the
victims of crimes against transgender individuals are memorialized
on Nov. 20. The event has grown to
include hundreds of cities around