South L.A. murder leads groups to raise awareness about transgender crime

Anabel Munoz Image
Friday, April 5, 2024
Groups raise awareness about transgender crime after South L.A. murder
Advocacy groups and friends of Meraxes Medina are raising awareness about violence against transgender people after her murder in South Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Meraxes Medina was 24 years old when police say she was shot and killed on March 19.

Loved ones and some organizations are raising awareness about gun violence against transgender people around the country and here in Los Angeles.

Alisha Whitfield affectionally remembered Medina.

"Meraxes was a go-getter. She was very much a go-getter and I love that about her so much," Whitfield told Eyewitness News.

They met as teens, traveled and had jobs together. Medina was a talented makeup artist.

"I know she would have went far," Whitfield said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Medina was found dead on the road in South Los Angeles. They said she was shot and that there was evidence she was also struck by a vehicle.

"Then to top it off just to be left out there, like, out on the open street for all to see is just disgusting," said Whitfield.

An arrest was made 10 days later. Authorities did not report a motive. "Of course, most definitely she was targeted because of her identity," said Whitfield.

Whitfield said according to family, Medina left her home after being picked up by a man shortly before her body was found.

California chapters of groups with Everytown for Gun Safety released a statement underscoring Medina was at least the third transgender person killed by gun violence in the U.S.

"...We cannot ignore the disproportionate impact of gun violence on our transgender and gender-expansive neighbors, especially its impact on Black trans women and trans Latinas. We must honor Meraxes' legacy by continuing to fight to protect our transgender and gender-expansive communities not only in California, but across the country," said Ashley Castillo, a student leader with Students Demand Action and National Organizing Board Member.

Between 2017 and 2023, there were 263 reported homicides of transgender people in the U.S., according to the organization. A gun was used in 193 of them.

In California, there were 14 homicides of transgender people reported between 2018 and 2024 so far, and 37% were in Los Angeles.

The group stated it is likely other cases go unreported or victims are misgendered.

"The U.S. ranks third for the highest number of homicides against trans people, after Brazil and Mexico," according to Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

"It's hard out there," said Whitfield. "A lot of the girls out here we're really strong when it comes to hate and stuff like that. This is something that we deal with every day."

Whitfield is calling on transgender community members to be safe and check in on each other. "Trans lives matter. POC trans lives matter," she said. "Please share your location with any friends, close friends, anyone. Share your location," said Whitfield.