NCAVP mourns the death of 21-year-old Puerto Rican, transgender woman, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, in Humacao, Puerto Rico

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NCAVP mourns the death of 21-year-old Layla Pelaez Sánchez, whose life was tragically lost to violence in Humacao Puerto Rico on April 21, 2020. In a heinous act, Layla was found dead alongside Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32,  a fellow New York native and Puerto Rican transgender woman.

According to the NY Times, Luz Melendez, 29, Layla’s cousin, described her as “an easygoing young woman who had been raised by her grandmother and was just beginning to explore the world.” Her grandmother, Ms. Melendez, told the Times, “[Layla] didn’t have bad friends and she was never in the street. It caught us by surprise since she transitioned so easily and she didn’t ever have any issues.” We send our deepest condolences to Layla and Serena’s family and friends.

Two men have been arrested in connection with this act of violence and local police are continuing this investigation as a hate crime.

We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilngual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.