By Keely Sexton
The crisis of violence facing the transgender community in Puerto Rico has reached a boiling point. In a year where deadly violence against the transgender community was highest ever on record in the United States, Puerto Rico stands out as a beacon of terror.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, Mount Holyoke’s Harriet L. Weissman and Paul M. Weissman Distinguished Fellow in Leadership, spoke to USA Today about the tragic history and wave of violence facing society’s most vulnerable.
“The transgender community is the most discriminated within the LGBT community, and Puerto Rico is no exception,” she said. “There’s still a lot of conservative, religiously motivated thought. Legislators are too concerned about people’s sex lives, when they should be concerned about protecting people’s rights to live their lives the way they want.”
Just a year ago, Cruz was mayor of San Juan, the heart of Puerto Rico, where her advocacy on behalf of the community was denounced by many — even her political allies.
“We faced veiled resistance,” she said. “People would call and tell me, ‘Don’t do it. We’ll lose the conservative vote.’ Some saw my solidarity with the LGBT community and would say, ‘Oh, it must be because she’s a lesbian.’ Because God forbid someone actually feel some empathy.”