New Governor of Puerto Rico Declares State of Emergency Due to Anti-Trans, Misogynistic Violence

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday January 26, 2021

The newly-installed governor of Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due intense anti-trans and misogynistic violence, CNN reports.

The epidemic of lethal violence targeting trans and cisgender women has been ongoing for years, but has worsened in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and, more recently, the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, CNN noted.

2020 was an especially deadly year. "At least 60 direct and indirect femicides were reported in Puerto Rico" last year, CNN noted. The number included the murders of six trans women.

Calls for the government to put together a meaningful response have also been ongoing for years. The new governor, Pedro Pierluisi, "announced an executive order aimed at preventing and protecting against gender-based violence through a number of programs," CNN reported.

The governor's office released a statement on Jan. 24 announcing the state of emergency, which it said would last until June 30, 2022, ABC News reported.

"For too long vulnerable victims have suffered the consequences of systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all lack of action," Gov. Pierluisi said in the statement.

Pierluisi called for gender "equity" and "an educational approach to teach our boys and girls that every human being has to be respected," ABC News reported.

The government's actions will also include the creation of a 17-member committee "tasked with providing education, support and rescue around gender violence," and "the development of a mobile app through which victims of gender violence can request emergency help without arousing suspicion from their aggressors," CNN reported.

Trans women of color have suffered from an epidemic of lethal violence all across America in recent years, including Puerto Rico. 2020 was the deadliest year yet; the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks deadly anti-trans violence, reported that "at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people" were murdered last year, "the majority of which were Black and Latinx transgender women."

Trans men are also victims: 2021 was not yet two weeks old when, on Jan. 11, the body of was found with numerous bullet wounds highway near Trujillo Alton, Puerto Rico.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.