A 28-year-old transgender woman was found strangled to death in India. The victim, known only as Gowri, was found covered by an asbestos sheet near Aluva train station in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Gowri had been working in construction in Aluva for the last several years, and was a native of Tamil Nadu, but not much else is know about her. Because investigators have been unable to track down her relatives, the trans community in Aluva has offered to take responsibility for her remains.
“If the District Collector directs us to handover the body to the community leaders we have no objection,” a police officer reported. The investigation into her death is ongoing.
Tamil Nadu has a sizable trans community and a reputation for being one of the most LGBT-friendly regions in India. The first queer film festival was launched in its capital city, Chennai, in 2004—followed by the first Pride parade in India five years later. (The same year, a local news network hired the first transgender newscaster in the country.)
In 2014, Bharathi Kannamma, a Tamil Nadu native, became the first trans woman to run for parliament. Chennai is also the home of India’s first transgender police officer.
Transgender women, or hijras, have been a part of Indian culture since antiquity, but they still face discrimination and stigma. Last year a trans woman was set on fire outside a Chennai police station, after being harassed by officers and told to “go and die.”