Puerto Rico’s transgender violence scourge continues with the murder of Samuel Valentin
Valentin’s death is another devastating loss for the transgendered community of Puerto Rico.
Samuel Edmund Damian Valentin, a young transgender man, and student at Atlantic University College in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, was found murdered in the middle of highway PR-181 in Trujillo Alto in Carolina, Puerto Rico on Jan. 9.
His body was discovered by a woman who inadvertently hit it while she drove on the highway. When she pulled over to examine what she hit, she made a gruesome discovery.
Valentin’s body was reported to have at least five bullet wounds, according to WAPA.
His body was originally reported as being that of a woman, but family and friends confirmed to reporters that he was in fact, a trans man.
Unfortunately, Valentin’s murder is the seventh transgender murder on the island in the span of a year.
Many citizens in Puerto Rico are understandably upset and are asking authorities to investigate this murder as a hate crime.
In response, LGBTQ activist Pedro Julio Serrano said he is tired of having to see on the news that someone from the LGBTQ community was murdered once again.
“With the murder of Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, there are seven trans people - in 1 year - who lost their lives because of hatred. Declare a state of emergency for gender violence and hate crimes,” Serrano expressed on Twitter.
Con el asesinato de Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín son 7 personas trans —en 1 año— que perdieron sus vidas a causa del odio.
Declaren un estado de emergencia por violencia de género y crímenes de odio.
Descansen en poder Alexa, Serena, Layla, Penélope, Yampi, Michelle y Samuel. pic.twitter.com/EGic4jvCAk
— Pedro Julio Serrano (@PedroJulio) January 11, 2021
Serrano also believes that the murders of LGBTQ people in Puerto Rico don’t get the same acknowledgment as people who aren’t in the LGBTQ community.
He expressed to police many times that authorities have to “properly” spend the time investigating Serrano’s murder to get answers.
"One of the problems we have with the Police and the Department of Justice is that they do not identify LGBTQ + people in their incident reports. Almost every time an LGBTQ + person is murdered, it is the community that identifies it,” said Serrano. “Police and Justice fail to comply with their protocols and it even seems that they want to ignore, make invisible and minimize the serious problem of the wave of homophobic and transphobic violence that haunts us like never before.”
Puerto Rico’s hate crime laws are valid, but that doesn’t mean the justice system takes them seriously.
In fact, many hate crimes go unnoticed on the Caribbean island.
Less than a year ago, a homeless, transgender woman named Alexa Negron Luciano was also murdered in Toa Naja, Puerto Rico, just hours before a citizen filmed her in a restaurant.
The murder was deemed highly suspect, and former governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez officially ruled Negron’s murder as a hate crime.
Negron’s death caught the attention of many prominent celebrities in America.
Bad Bunny, rapper and Puerto Rican native wore a shirt during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that read, “Mataron a Alexa, no a un hombre con falda,” which translates to: “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also condemned the murder of Negron on Twitter.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 26, 2020
“We must use every tool we have to end it and protect trans women of color. #SeLlamabaAlexa," she wrote.
As crimes against transgender individuals seem to grow in Puerto Rico every year, it is important that all members of the Hispanic LGBTQ community are protected.
Valentin’s family and friends set up a GoFundMe account to pay for his funeral costs.
Rest In Paradise Samuel Edmund Damian Valentin.