The body of Diana Sacayán, president of the International Association of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexual (ILGA) and member of the Anti-Discrimination Liberation Movement (MAL), was discovered by an apartment building caretaker this afternoon.
Sacayán is also remembered for receiving her DNI directly from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on live television.
The activist’s body was identified by friends, most of whom are fellow activists and community leaders. Sacayán was found in bed with multiple stab wounds seen across her body. The door to the apartment appeared to have been forced open from the inside, a sign that the attacker might not have forced their way in, but certainly had to fight to find a way out of the premises. The apartment was torn apart but it is not immediately clear if this is the result of a fight or an attempted robbery.
Mariela Labozzera, a prosecutor from the Special Crime Unit Against Gender Violence (UFEM) has made a formal motion so that the case is tried and investigated as a femicide. This (in theory) should empower law enforcement and judges to employ stronger legal tactics while pursuing the case.
It is not immediately clear the role Sacayán’s gender identity played in her death. What is clear however, is that she is one of the latest in a long and tragic line of deaths of both cis and trans women taking place in Argentina, and across the world. Beyond the obvious pain the loss of human life should cause, one of the most painful and frustrating components of this awful event is that a leader and activist was reduced to a victim. How we talk about gender violence matters, and it is sure to be a topic for conversation over the next few days.
Make no mistake that the label of “victim” does not indicate either defeat or weakness in a person, instead the very fact victimhood of this type exists is symptom of a sick and malfunctioning society. People inside and outside of the LGBTQ community either passively or actively de-humanize trans people everyday. By making jokes, by misrepresenting them (if not outright mocking them) in the media, to tacitly passing the torch onto someone else by saying “it’s not my problem.”
Diana Sacayán’s life was not without controversy, but in context the legacy she leaves has meaning. She fought for recognition and had the audacity to ask the world to treat her and her friends like humans. If her death is to take on some higher meaning let’s hope that it serves as cold, irrefutable evidence that snide jokes and apathy have the ability to kill — and on a scale many of us can’t stand to stomach.