• Threatening messages were found next to the trans woman's body when it was discovered on Dec. 11
  • The trans woman's death was the fifth trans killing in the western Mexico state of Colima this year
  • The area where the victim's body was found has been branded as “death row” by locals and is often used by organized crime figures

A 31-year-old trans woman was found dead earlier this month in the Juárez Canal in the western Mexico state of Colima.

Victim Saray Atenea's body showed signs of torture when it was found in the body of water running through the town of Lo de Villa in Colima on Dec. 11, LGBTQ+ outlet Presentes reported, citing authorities.

A cardboard sign with threatening messages was found next to her body, local journalist Roberto Macías told the outlet.

No other details were mentioned regarding the killing, including the cause of death and potential suspects.

The area where Atenea's body was found has been branded as “death row” by locals and is often used by organized crime figures, activist and Colima Human Rights Commission advisor Marco Antonio Gaspar told Presentes.

It is also an area where trans women engage in sex work, meaning they are often in danger, according to Gaspar.

“In the area where they found Saray, which is already the rural area of ​​Colima, they have found other women, trans girls and men,” Gaspar said.

Atenea’s death was the fifth trans murder in Colima this year, according to Orgullo Disidente (Dissident Pride), a group promoting LGBTQ+ human rights in Colima.

Orgullo Disidente expressed outrage over Atenea’s killing and said that the increase in violence against LGBTQ+ people was a result of heightened police presence in the area as a method of tackling drug trafficking.

“The news fills us with pain and anger,” the group wrote on Instagram Sunday. “We demand justice from the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Colima for all those murdered, and to the state government, a real change in the security strategy that is killing us.”

Carlos Ruíz, a member of Orgullo Disidente, said Atenea's killing “must be investigated as a de facto femicide.”

Colima is one of the few states in the country that has a protocol for action on the crime of femicide that explicitly includes trans identities. All femicides in the state are required to be investigated “with a gender perspective, a differential approach and human rights,” and this applies “to all women, including trans women.”

Meanwhile, friends and family of Atenea shared messages of love for her and of outrage at her murder on social media, according to Advocate.

“You have left great pain in the family,” a relative posted on social media. “Your family has always accepted you and gave you a lot of love. Thank you for being that incomparable aunt who taught us that being different does not define you as a person. On the contrary, it gives a little more joy to your life.”

At least 65 trans people have been killed in Mexico between October 2020 and September this year, making it the second deadliest country for trans people in the world, according to Transgender Europe​, a network of different organizations working to combat discrimination against trans people and support trans people rights. Brazil reported 125 murders during that period.

Representational Image. pixabay