Friday night, another trans sister of color was murdered, this time in Memphis. 41 year old Alejandra Leos was born in Monclova Vieja, Coahuila De Zaragoza, Mexico, but lived with her family in Memphis. She had family support and job security. She was respected, loved and valued by those who knew her. Alejandra used the name Alexandra on her Facebook page. A hashtag #RememberAlejandra has been spreading as people learn about another victim in this ongoing violence against our trans sisters.
Except for the person who shot her just a few steps from her Memphis home. Family told WREG that they suspected someone had been harassing Alejandra and was responsible for her death. On Monday, police announced the arrest of 21-year-old Marshall Pegues on charges of first-degree murder. Pegues allegedly shared a home with Leos.
The police misgendered Alejandra, but her family corrected them. The media coverage is a bit shaky – WREG quoted family members and friends using male pronouns, but Pink Media (based in the UK) corrected the quotes. It is just ridiculous that I’ve written so many of these stories that I have a little checklist in my head of things to verify that are specific to trans women of color before I post. It is almost sickening.
But it is clear that Alejandra was loved.
Describing the woman’s kindness, Smith said: “‘You don’t have a jacket? I’ll give it to you’.
“It was to the point where if you didn’t have no place to sleep [Alejandra] would help you.”
In spite of her security and her generous spirit, Alejandra was still targeted as someone who was disposable. And we now mourn the 6th murder of a trans woman of color since Pride began in June of this year. Alejandra joins Mia, Kandy, Tiffany, Yaz’min, and Zoraida among the many others who have lost their life to violence.
Alejandra’s murder is especially poignant as September is Hispanic Heritage Month. She requires us to think more closely about the intersection of her gender identity and her ethnic and racial identities. This week is also when Pittsburgh hosts the TransPride Pittsburgh National Conference, welcoming trans folk from around the nation to a three-day event.
The Gun Violence Survivors Foundation is collecting donations via Paypal for her burial expenses. Please give what you can to help lift this one burden from her grieving family. According to the Foundation’s Christopher Hayes, they need to raise $6,000.
Rest in peace, Alejandra. We will continue to honor your legacy.
Update: I have been informed that Alejandra’s viewing will be on Wednesday and the funeral on Thursday, now at Harold Ford Funeral Chapel in Memphis. Plans are a little unclear because of the need to raise donations. My heart just breaks for a family having to scramble for money to bury their adult child.