Latina woman who was found murdered in the city's Mission District. Ruby died one week ago today, one
of at least three transgender women of color to be murdered in the Bay Area over the past six months. And this is the Bay Area, one of the most—if not the most—open, supportive places in this country to live if one is transgender. A press release from Community United Against Violence asks, "Let us not forget Ruby. She was an exceptional woman who was intent on improving her life. Ruby participated in various support groups and language classes, and idolized Chicana singer Selena." You can read more of the press release at
This news takes me back to the death of Gwen Araujo in 2002. As it so happened, that year my partner and I were living in the Bay Area. It also happened to be the year I was transitioning. The murder hit me pretty hard. The day of Gwen's funeral I drove over and participated in a vigil outside the church. I'd heard that Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church had threatened to come and protest outside the funeral, and I wanted to be there in support of Gwen's family and friends. The crowd was a mix of students from Gwen's school (Newark Memorial High), neighbors, and transgender community members. As it turned out, the Newark high school drama crew was putting on a production of the Laramie Project, a play by Moisés Kaufman about the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man killed in Laramie Wyoming in 1998. One of the most moving scenes in the Laramie Project occurs when mourners shield Shepherd's family from members of Phelps's Church. They achieve their shield by wearing angel costumes with huge wings: standing side by side, the wings block the protesters from view. That day at Gwen Araujo's funeral in Newark, California, I was stunned to see the high school's angel cast members in full winged regalia, ready to shield the family from any foes. Thankfully, none showed up.
I pray that the memorial vigil earlier tonight also took place in peace. As Chris Daly of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco has said, it isn't clear if the number of hate crimes against trans people has increased or whether we're simply able to identify better them now. I pray for all impacted by these murders, and for an end to the practice of violently writing our dominant culture's norms of gender, race, immigration status, sexuality and class on the bodies of those who transgress them.
The Rev'd Cameron Partridge