Local outlets in Puerto Rico on
Wednesday reported the murders of two transgender women.
Serena Angelique Velázquez,
32, and Layla Pelaez, 21, were found in a car that had been set on
fire. They had been shot, Puerto Rico daily El
Nuevo Dia reported. Authorities found the car with the women
inside under a bridge in the municipality of Humacao on the island's
Detectives told other outlets that they
were attempting to identify a motive.
A coalition of LGBT advocacy groups
known as El Comité Amplio
para la Búsqueda de la
Equidad (CABE) called on authorities to investigate the murders as a
“We urge the police to adequately,
immediately and with sensitivity investigate these vile and atrocious
murders of Serena Angelique Velázquez
and Layla Pelaez,” the group said in a statement.
In a blog post, the Human Rights
Campaign (HRC) said that it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the
“Transgender and gender
non-conforming people, especially women of color, are too often the
victims of a toxic mix of transphobia, racism, and misogyny,” said
Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender
Justice Initiative. “People and policy must work together to
protect our lives and our well-being. HRC stands in solidarity with
all who knew and loved them."
HRC said that of the eight transgender
or gender non-conforming murders in the United States this year, four
have been in Puerto Rico.