Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Transgender Latina Stabbed to Death in Los Angeles: Story of Injustice

paulina_ibarra1-450x250Los Angeles, CA – Paulina Ibarra, transgender Latina, was found stabbed to death in her apartment in East Los Angeles on August 28.  The transgender community quickly moved to help the LAPD identify a “person of interest,” 24-year-old Jesus Catalan, who is wanted for jumping parole.  Police as of this writing are still seeking Catalan to question him in regards to Ms. Ibarra’s murder, believing him to have been at the scene of the crime.  While the LAPD has not definitively determined that her murder is a transphobic hate crime, the case is being investigated as if it were, according to Officer Sara Faden.  According to the Los Angeles Daily News, all the LAPD is willing to say at this point is that a suspect, or suspects, apparently entered Ibarra’s home, “engaged in a physical confrontation, resulting in the victim being stabbed to death.”  Victoria Ortega, transgender community leader and activist, told ABC 7 News that the Los Angeles trans community won’t stand idly by and let a killer get away: “We’re here to say that we’re not going to let somebody come in here and kill one of our members and let it happen and let it be forgotten.”  Innuendo has been used to downplay the Ibarra murder, such as suggestions that Catalan, who allegedly frequented prostitutes may have been in Ms. Ibarra’s apartment for that purpose.  Such tactics in the press often diminish the victim in the eyes of the public, and just as often are later shown to be false, after the damage to the story, the investigation, and the character of the victim is already done.  Added to such reductionistic tendencies in press reports are factors in Ms. Ibarra’s identity, that she was non-white, transgender, and Latina.  The cumulative effect of these downplaying tendencies in the press and in public consciousness is subtly to blame the victim for her own demise, an insidious injustice.  While the story of the search for Catalan achieved moderate coverage in the mainstream media, and a bit more in the LGBT press, no follow-up news has been forthcoming on Ms. Ibarra, another indication that her death is being downplayed as less significant than if she were a white, straight male with a family.  The murders of transwomen of color have reached an epidemic proportion in the United States, a newsworthy item that is largely unknown because of cultural and media insensitivity.

September 26, 2009 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, Hate Crimes, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, transgender persons, transphobia, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , ,

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