Prominent trans rights activist Diana Sacayán was found dead in her Buenos Aires home from an apparent murder. Police are investigating her death, but it appears to be the third recent murder of a trans woman living in Argentina.
According to Pink News, the body of Diana Sacayán was found with multiple stab wounds and the entrance to her apartment was broken from the inside. Her hands and feet had been tied with rope. Police are currently searching for two suspects who may have known Diana Sacayán, because it appears that she let her attackers inside willingly and locked the door behind them. Once the crime had been committed, the attackers couldn’t find the key to get out and broke the lock.
Though the trans activist was found on Wednesday, authorities believe she was murdered over the weekend, according to the Buenos Aires Herald. The superintendent found Diana Sacayán when he noticed that the door to her 13th floor apartment was open. When he went inside, he found a horrifying scene, with traces of blood nearly everywhere inside the apartment. He called the police around 1 p.m.
Though the apartment was ransacked, police have ruled out the possibility of a home invasion robbery. It appears as though Diana Sacayán tried to defend herself from her attacks.
Diana Sacayán was a representative of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and an iconic trans rights activist in Argentina. She had become well respected for her work in advancing the rights of transsexual individuals and working with the anti-discrimination group Movimento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación. Diana Sacayán made headlines in 2012 when she became one of the very first transgender individuals to legally change her gender without needing authorization from a healthcare professional.
“[Diana Sacayán] will be remembered by the employees of Ministry of Human Rights for her life, fight and militancy,” said Human Rights Secretary Martin Fresneda. “With deep sorrow, we pledge to work towards uncovering the facts and the search for truth and justice.”
Despite the ongoing efforts of people like Diana Sacayán to reduce trans phobia and trans violence across the world, this shocking murder is only the most recent in an ever-growing list of trans people murdered in South America. According to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project, 1,356 trans individuals have been killed in South America since 2008.
Since the death of Diana Sacayán, Buenos Aires prosecutor Matías Di Lello has been questioning her neighbors, trying to determine who could be responsible for the grisly murder. Witnesses say she was seen entering her apartment with a man over the weekend, but that she was never seen coming back out.
Diana Sacayán was scheduled to attend the 30th National Women’s Meeting in Mar del Plata over the weekend, but never showed up. When her friends called her to ask why she was absent, there was no response.
According to Amnesty International, the LGBT community is using the death of Diana Sacayán as a call to action for better protection for trans individuals from the government and the authorities.
“A dark cloud has set over Argentina’s trans community. Unless this latest wave of murders is effectively investigated and those responsible taken to justice, a message will be sent that attacking trans women is actually ok,” said Mariela Belski, the Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina.
In 2014, Diana Sacayán wrote a blog post requesting that people celebrate her life after she dies, instead of mourning her loss.
“When I leave, I don’t want people in mourning. I want colours, drinks and lots of food. That food that lacked when I was a girl. When I leave, I wish I made my contribution to the struggle for a world without gender inequality, without class inequality.”
[Image credit: Esteban Paulón/LGBT Federation of Argentina; Facebook; ILGA]