We want to honor your life by remembering. Remembering so many others who continue to suffer from transphobia and hate violence. Remembering too many lives that have been taken by U.S. militarization in the Philippines. Remembering all those who have been harmed and dehumanized by systems of power and have not gotten the calls of justice they deserve. Remembering that our struggles are deeply connected. Remembering that all our people deserve to live with dignity.
We want to honor your life by taking action.
– GABRIELA Seattle, Pacific Northwest Bayan Queer Collective
One year after her death, justice still has not been served for Jennifer Laude in spite of international calls. The 26-year-old Filipina transwoman was found dead in a hotel room in Olongapo City, after she was strangled by U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. On the weekend of October 11, Jennifer Laude’s death anniversary, GABRIELA USA chapters held actions, community forums and vigils to commemorate the life of Jennifer Laude.
Pemberton has claimed that Laude’s death was caused by experiencing “trans panic,” fearing he would be raped after discovering she was trans. “Pemberton’s claim reveals the transphobia and violence faced by the trans community, particularly trans women. The violence Jennifer experienced as a trans woman is not an isolated case, and we’re seeing that it is a worsening epidemic” says Pia Cortez, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA SF. According to the New York City Anti Violence Project, there has been at least 20 trans women killed in U.S. this year alone, which is a record increase from previous years.
Laude’s case is only one casualty of the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as joint training exercises between the U.S. Marines and Filipino forces ensue. U.S.-Philippine military agreements like this and the Visiting Forces Agreement are direct causes of Laude’s murder, and also an impediment to the justice Laude deserves.
“We are outraged that Pemberton’s legal team has tried to enter a plea deal with Laude’s family, as this move is reminiscent of the rape case of another Filipina, Nicole, by a U.S. soldier back in 2005. U.S. military occupation in the Philippines causes violence towards the Filipino people, and protecting perpetrators only condones state-sponsored violence towards women and children” concludes Cortez.
GABRIELA USA will continue to remember Jennifer and other trans women who have fallen victim to community and systemic violence. We will continue to stand with our trans sisters and brothers in lifting up trans lives and demanding that institutions such as the U.S. military also be held accountable for crimes committed against trans people.