29-Year-Old Afro-Latina Trans Woman Shot to Death in Puerto Rico

Uvita Channel Perez Ortiz
(Facebook/Lynzoet Rodriguez)

A 29-year-old Afro-Latina trans woman Chanell Perez Ortiz was killed over the weekend in the city of Carolina in northern Puerto Rico. Chanell was also known as Uvita, an endearment, among her friends and family. Sources close to the victim confirm that she identified as Afro-Latina and as a trans woman.

She was shot to death early on Sunday, June 25, on the PR-190 highway, behind a university in Carolina.

When officials responded to a 911 call about a person lying on the pavement, they found Chanell with multiple bullet rounds, as many as 7 or 8 according to Telemundo.

While Chanell has been misgendered and deadnamed in multiple media outlets, law enforcement has clarified that they are actively exploring if her gender identity was a factor in her murder (misgendering and deadnaming at these links.)

Police Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa reported in written statements that the case is being investigated as a transfemicide.

“The Criminal Investigation Corps (CIC) of the Police, attached to Carolina, is investigating all the angles surrounding the violent death of a trans woman, whose body presents bullet wounds. As established in the public policy of this Administration, the investigation is being conducted in accordance with the Protocol for the Investigation of Violent Deaths of Women and Transgender People by Reason of Gender,” said López Figueroa. 

Chanell was a cosmetologist, according to her stepmother who spoke with WAPA TV.

Based on her social media, Chanell was interested in fashion, makeup, and hair styles. She shared quotes from French fashion designer, Coco Chanel. Chanell shared a lot of playful, fun content, and clearly had strong friendships with people who are grieving her deeply.

Chanell is the thirteenth trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. She is the 3rd Latina and the 4th trans person of Latinx descent. She is the 12th trans person of color, the 11th trans woman, and the tenth trans woman of color whose death have been recorded in the United States this year. As a woman who identified as Afro-Latina, it is important to note that she is the second person of African descent, the tenth Black trans person, and the eight Black trans woman. It is important to clarify that “reported* is a distinction to make as we know there are more folx whose deaths go unacknowledged.

People ask me why I break out identity. We need to understand how this campaign of terror is impacting all of us and that means focusing in on those who are disproportionately impacted.

Chanell was left to die after being shot at least 7 or 8 times. I’m not a ballistics expert, but it feels horrible to even imagine so much damage to one human being, much less on a street in the early morning hours. Alone, one imagines, except for her killer and witnesses who have as of yet not come forward. That’s not any sort of real comfort, is it? Chanell died alone in the street. The story of her death – and her life – is based on a person, a name, who was not Chanell. It is based on choices she made or those made for her years ago that warranted a criminal record even though there is not a hint of evidence to suggest those actions are tied to her murder. It is still something people feel compelled to share along with her government assigned name when discussing the context of her body being found shot 8 times on a street in the dark, alone. Not even thoughts and prayers, just disregard and disinformation.

When I began this blogging of memorial posts in 2013, I learned from Monica Roberts that reporting on the death of trans folx was often accompanied by misinformation, criminal histories of any sort, government issued ID, and a very strongly implied vibe that killing such a person was perhaps an inevitable outcome. I had noted movement away from this paradigm of dehumanization. But now I see a rise in criminal histories and government issued identification. Chanell’s killing is pinging my intuition and I need to honor that because the last thing we need is more media outlets backsliding on trans stories.

Rest in power, Chanell. Your beautiful life was cut far too short by violence you didn’t deserve. Your friends, family, and community are advocating for you in this realm as you make your way to the next. The impact you had in ways big and small will endure. I am so very sorry that we failed to create a safe and just community for you. Thank you for all the joy and beauty and love you broughts into this world.

May your memory be a revolution.

his is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2023. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.  

  1. Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
  2. KC Johnson – Wilmington, North Carolina, January 13, 2023. Age 27.
  3. Tortuguita – Weelaunee Forest, Georgia, January 18, 2023. Age 26.
  4. Unique Banks – Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 2023. Age 21.
  5. Zachee Imanitwitaho – Louisville, Kentucky, February 3, 2023. Age 26.
  6. Maria Jose Rivera Rivera – Houston, Texas, January 21, 2023. Age 22.
  7. Cashay Henderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 27, 2023. Age 31.
  8. Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland – Mechanicsville, Maryland, March 24, 2023. Age 18
  9. Ashley Burton – Atlanta, Georgia, April 11, 2023. Age 37.
  10. Rasheeda Williams – Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2023. Age 35.
  11. Banko Brown – San Francisco, California, April 27, 2023. Age 24.
  12. Ashia Davis – Detroit, Michigan, June 2, 2023. Age 34.
  13. Chanell Perez Ortiz – Carolina, Puerto Rico, June 25, 2023. Age 29.
Trans deaths


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