Trans woman human rights defender Elizabeth Montaño was killed in June 2020 in Morelos, Mexico. She was a general practitioner and defender of the right to medical attention in Social Security clinics and hospitals for persons of the LGBTQI+ community. She also organised educational processes and projects in medicine and nursing in order to train personnel giving health care to transgender patients.
Doctor Montaño, who was also the Director of Quality Education in the Health and Education Department of the Siglo XXI Hospital, was last seen on 08 June 2020. On June 10, the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City issued a search warrant that was in effect until June 18, 2020, when her body was found at one side of the Mexico City-Cuernavaca Highway in the municipality of Huitzilac, Morelos, Mexico.
According to data provided by the UAM Research Department and by a member of the Letter S Collective, Samuel Jair Martínez Cruz, between 2013 and 2018, 73 hate crimes were perpetrated in Mexico, 261 of which were committed against transgender women. In this context, an average of 79 members of the LGBT community are violently murdered year after year, but only 10 per cent of the deaths are investigated as hate crimes even though 22 exhibited violence before or after the murder and 60 more showed signs of torture.
IM-Defensoras condemn the murder of Doctor Montaño, defender of health and LGBTIQ rights, and also condemn all other acts of violence and discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Moreover, we demand an urgent, independent investigation to clarify the facts of Elizabeth’s murder, and protective measures for the LGBTI community, especially for women defending the rights of diverse persons.
Dr. María Elizabeth Montaño Fernández liked to use an allegory to explain what gender is: she fixed her deep gaze on the audience and asked them to imagine a man named Alfred going out on the street one day and he is run over by a car.
The vehicle cuts Alfred in half, and although the doctors managed to save his life, he suffers amputation from the waist down. “Even though that man has lost his genitals, is he still a man?” Montaño asks with bright eyes during a debate held on 28 September 2019. “Of course we do, because what makes us men or women is not what we have between our legs, but our brain.”
Source: Remembering Our Dead
While some source note Dr. Montaño death as death by suicide, there is a strong contention amongst civil society that the circumstances surrounding her death are suspicious.
Dr. Montaño is one of 4 trans women human rights defenders killed in Mexico in 2020 and featured on the HRD Memorial. The three other trans women human rights defenders killed in 2020 from Mexico are; Karla Camarena (March 2020), Jeanine Huerta López (August 2020) and Mireya Rodríguez Lemus (September 2020).