Updates in Murders of Trans Women Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien & Viccky Gutierrez

We aren’t half way through the first month of 2018, but have already reported on violent murders of two transgender women.  Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, was killed in Massachusetts on Jan. 4, 2018.  On Wednesday, January 10, the body Viccky Gutierrez was found burned in a building in South Los Angeles.

Christa was murdered by her husband.

He told officers he and his wife got into an argument, claiming that she was “always belittling” him, according to police.

Following that argument he “snapped,” he told police, and began striking Christa in the head with a hammer in their living room. He then stabbed her in the back, took a shower and went to the liquor store to buy alcohol, according to the police account of the interview.

After he returned, he wrapped Christa’s body and the murder weapons in bedding, plastic and a tarp and dragged them to the basement, the police report said.

Hand-in-hand with any incident of intrafamily or intrapersonal violence will come the argument that these are ‘not really’ transphobic’ but simply tragic violence that many people experience.

Domestic violence affects all populations, but the transgender community is victimized at higher rates than the general population: according to a review completed by The Williams Institute, 30 percent to 50 percent of transgender people experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime compared to 28 to 33 percent in the general population.

On Thursday came word that a LAPD Task Force arrested 29 Kevin Ramirez and he was being held on $2,000,000 bail.

“Ramirez has admitted to investigators that he killed the victim after a dispute,” reads a Friday afternoon LAPD press release.

While the LAPD have not yet released a motive, a call was received by 911 about ‘a fight’ before the fire was reported. Viccky’s friends believe she was killed and the building set on fire to cover up the crime.

It is certainly a relief that both predators are off the street, but the ferocity of their crimes is terrifying. It is a genuine problem that trans women or any women are subjected to such brutality for any perceived slight.

Are these hate crimes? If your definition is that someone must be documented screaming “I hate trans people” while in the midst of committing a crime  – then no and nothing would rise to that standard.

Is it possible to be in an intimate relationship with a trans woman and/or a marriage and still be transphobic? Absolutely.

Is it possible that a trans woman might remain in an unhealthy relationship because of their trans identity? Yes.

Does the decision negate the transphobia? No, you can’t preemptively forgive someone for a hate crime because of your personal relationship.

Do any choices made by the victims justify or warrant the violent outcome? No, no, no.

It really is frustrating how people want to erase gender identity with regard to susceptible to criminal behavior. Maybe they think if we use a very narrow definition, the number of crimes will nose dive? Or maybe they truly believe that centering trans survivors and victims somehow takes away from the terrible experiences cisgender folks endure? Or they don’t want wrestle with the tenacious and insidious manner in which transphobia (and racism and sexism) manifests in our daily lives? Or all of these things.

Rest in power, Christa and Viccky.