In Houston, Texas, a community is in mourning after a woman was found shot to death in her home.
On Saturday, 29-year-old Paloma Vazquez, a transgender woman, was found shot inside her Gulfton-area apartment.
Speaking to ABC13, Vazquez’s friend, Gia Pacheco, said the victim had fled her home in Latin America to escape transphobic violence. She had been in the U.S. for just six months.
“As most trans women who are here from Latina America, they are here because they are scared of being killed in their own country,” said Pacheco.
“There’s a lot of transphobia in Latin America,” another friend, Valentin Terrazas told the news outlet. “They come here for refuge and to better their lives and have a future here.”
Police said there was no sign of forced entry into her apartment.
Vazquez’s killing comes weeks after Naomi Skinner, a 25-year-old Black trans woman, was killed by her boyfriend on Feb.12 in Highland Park, Michigan.
Skinner was one of four known transgender or gender non-conforming individuals to suffer a violent death in the United States this year. That number is now up to five.
“At the age of 25, Naomie had her entire life ahead of her,” Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. “Her death is a reminder of the epidemic of violence against Black transgender women. Without action, this epidemic will continue to claim the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people when their lives are just starting out. Naomie’s life mattered and we must continue the fight to protect the lives of not just members of the trans and LGBTQ+ community, but all of us.”
More anti-trans bills were passed in 2021 than in any other year, which many have cited as a spike for much of the violence.