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Laverne Cox remembers Gwen Araujo

@Regrann from @lgbt_history – Gwen Amber Rose Araujo (February 5, 1985 – October 4, 2002), Newark, California, c. 2002. Photo c/o SFGate.com. In the summer of 2002, Gwen Araujo, a seventeen-year-old from Newark, California, met and befriended a group that included Jaron Nabors, Jason Cazares, Michael Magidson, and Jose Merel. On the night of October 3, 2002, fourteen years ago today, during a party at a house rented by Merel, Araujo was subjected to a “forced inspection” of her body, revealing to those present that she was a trans woman. From there, she was assaulted, hog-tied, wrapped in a blanket, driven four hours away, and buried near the Sierra Nevada mountains; when her body was discovered, the autopsy showed that she died from strangulation associated with blunt force trauma to the head. Of the five men accused of the murder, four were charged, two took plea deals for minimal jail time, and two – Michael Magidson and Jose Merel (both of whom had, at different times, engaged in sexual activity with Araujo) – were sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison for second-degree murder. After lawyers employed the so-called “trans panic defense” – that is, that the murderers were blinded by rage after “discovering” that Araujo was trans and were therefore not of sound mind at the time of the killing – Magidson and Merel were not convicted of the additional hate crime allegations, which would have enhanced their sentences. On June 23, 2004, at the request of her mother, a judge posthumously changed Araujo’s legal name to Gwen Amber Rose, reflecting her chosen name. And, on September 28, 2006, when then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, California became the first state officially to limit use of either the “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense. Gwen Araujo would be thirty-one years old now. #lgbthistory #lgbtherstory #lgbttheirstory #lgbtpride #QueerHistoryMatters #HavePrideInHistory #GwenAraujo #TransIsBeautiful #TransLivesMatter #RememberTheT #Regrann

A photo posted by laverne cox (@lavernecox) on

FILE UNDER: Transgender

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