A trans woman died in a fire authorities are calling suspicious this week, likely making her the second trans person known to have been killed in this country just the first two weeks of 2018.
Firefighters responded early Wednesday morning to reports of a blaze in an apartment in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. After battling the flames for almost 50 minutes, they discovered the badly-burned body of Viccky Gutierrez.
Police are still working to identify the remains according to The Los Angeles Times., but friends and family believe it’s her, as the fire occurred in her apartment.
Gutierrez, who immigrated from Honduras, was active in Los Angeles’ TransLatina Coalition. News of her death spread after Coalition President Bamby Salcedo posted a Facebook Live video in her memory.
“Just to learn that she’s no longer with us is really sad. And it’s not that she is gone, it is the way that she was murdered,” said Salcedo, “We believe that it was intentional, we believe that it was premeditated… We seek justice for Viccky.”
Some in the trans community are asking if Gutierrez’s death was tied to her engaging in survival sex work. “There’s a strong possibility it came from work,” said Salcedo. “It’s what we have to do. But we just don’t know. We asked the LAPD to check her cell phone but everything was burned.”.
A vigil is being held tonight at 7pm and a GoFundMe page has been launched to cover funeral expenses for Gutierrez, whom friends described as “the nicest girl in the world” and “an inspiration to many.”
Her death comes a week after the murder Miss Trans America pageant founder Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
Last year, a record 27 transgender Americans were killed as a result of anti-trans violence.