Remembering Monica Loera
Murdered trans woman has been treated callously by the media
By Nina Hernandez,
5:22PM, Fri. Jan. 29, 2016
Monica Loera was shot and killed in front of her home on Jan. 22.
Although police have made an arrest in the case and a suspect has been charged, there’s been no public acknowledgement of her death or the community that has been further traumatized in its wake. And that’s wrong.
Reading the arrest affidavit or local news reports about the death, you’d have no idea that the victim was a transgender woman. The wild curls and wide grins from her Facebook page – and above all else, her chosen name – have been omitted to a staggering degree. Instead Loera has been described using her birth name and masculine pronouns.
The Trans Road Map describes this as a worst-case scenario: “Women in several states have been [identified by their former names] in highly publicized landmark court cases.” It mentions Gwen Araujo, the California teenager who was brutally murdered by four men in 2002, as a tragic example of that indignity.
Changing one's name and gender on official government documents is a complicated process in Texas. In order to change one's name, a person must petition the court, and those with felony convictions cannot change their names until two years have passed since the end of their sentence and they are no longer on parole or probation. Gender can only be changed after a person has received a court order.
Loera’s sex work has also been brought to light, mainly because her roommate told APD the suspect, JonCasey Rowell, was likely a customer. Rowell was seen by witnesses leaving Loera’s duplex “patting his pockets” before returning to the front door. Dukes, volunteer coordinator for the Transgender Education Network of Texas, pointed out the struggles trans women face every day in the workforce.
“Sometimes sex work is the only means to meet your survival needs,” Dukes said. “Especially when it comes to facing disparities in employment.”
Loera's loved ones are starting to fill in the details of her life. One close friend described the Monica she knew to the Chronicle.
“She was funny, [and] beautiful,” she said. “I never saw her as David, I saw her as Monica. She loved Madonna and she loved to cook.”
Editor's note: This post has been updated to clarify details about the process of legally changing one's name and gender on official government documents.