The Hate Crime Against Gwen Araujo

In October of 2002 a young girl named Gwen was brutally beaten, strangled, and buried 150 miles away from her home. Four people were convicted of killing her after finding out that she was in fact a boy and not a girl. In fact a supposed female friend of hers ratted her out to the boys who killed her after Gwen was getting more attention from the boys at this party that they were having. Gwen had made out with a couple of the boys from the party and when they found out that she was a boy they turned on her. First one of the boys took her into the bathroom and took her pants down to make sure that she was indeed a boy, then they all humiliated her for 5 hours and beat her with whatever they could get their hands on, and it resulted in her death. They buried her in the California desert, and went to have pancakes at a café as if nothing happened, and her body was not found for several days. One of the boys at the scene plea bargained, and talked to the police and turned his friends in for a lighter sentence.

Eddie Aurajo
Eddie Aurajo
Gwen Aurajo
Gwen Aurajo

Gwen Aurajo was born on February 24, 1985 in Newark, California, she was born a male and was named Eddie. Her mother has stated that from a very young age Eddie was always telling her that he thought that he was a girl. He would dress himself up like a girl and would always want to play with his mother’s makeup. It was very upsetting for his mother who didn’t understand the behavior and worried about her son.

By the time that Eddie was in high school, he would openly go to school wearing lipstick and earrings and was always getting harassed by other kids. He had a couple of relationships with boys, and refused to tell them that he was actually male, his mother took it upon herself to tell the boys that he was male because she didn’t like the idea of his lying to others about his real gender. At the trial his mother stated that Eddie/Gwen wanted to be loved and accepted before she told anyone about her real gender, thinking that she would be accepted more easily if a boy fell in love with her first. Unfortunately this behavior proved to be deadly for Gwen.

Three of the four defendants in the murder of Gwen Araujo were sentenced to prison on January 27, 2006.
Three of the four defendants in the murder of Gwen Araujo were sentenced to prison on January 27, 2006.
The funeral for Gwen
The funeral for Gwen

Gwen’s funeral received a lot of media attention, especially because this happened in the Bay area where much of the population is homosexual and transgenders. Since her death her mother legally changed her name to Gwen and started a foundation for transgender people called The Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education, which promotes the understanding of issues surrounding transgenders and also gives out annual grants. Gwen’s mother and family speak out in middle school and high schools throughout the Bay area, trying to bring awareness to issues facing teens and bringing to light the awareness of hate crimes. Amazingly none of the people that killed Gwen were charged with a hate crime. They were all convicted of second degree murder.

When Gwen's mother took the stand on behalf of her daughter at the murder trial the defense attorney made it sound like society and how it views people like Gwen was to blame for the murder and not the boys, and because of society the boys acted in this manner. This enraged Mrs. Guerro and she made a powerful statement about how the boys were the ones that brutally beat and strangled her daughter, and the boys needed to take responsibility for the act. When I saw the Lifetime movie about Gwen, this particular part really made me so angry. I thought how dare they make excuses like this instead of making those boys face the fact that they did a horrendous thing. I don't know if any of the boys have any remorse for the murder but I hope that for the rest of their life they hear the last words that were uttered from Gwen's mouth which was, "Please don't I have a family"!

I don’t think that anyone could argue with the fact that Gwen was wrong in keeping her gender to herself, but of course her punishment for this behavior certainly was not justified. Some may say that because of her transgender situation, that she was an abomination to God. I believe that hatred and evil resulted in her death, and when people voice their opposition to homosexuals and transgender people they are vomiting their ideas to our youth and it results in hatred that is widespread throughout the United States. Hopefully soon people will be more tolerant of others, especially to people like Gwen.

Sylvia Guerro
Sylvia Guerro

A Lifetime Network Movie called A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story, starring J.D. Pardo and Mercedes Ruehl, aired in June 2006. The case was also the subject of a 2007 documentary, Trained in the Ways of Men.

Victim Impact Statement of Sylvia Guerrero (Gwen's Mother)

 

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Comments 45 comments

geegee77 profile image

geegee77 6 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

Wow Ive never heard of this girl, I would like to read that book. That is so sad and Im sure she hid it because she knew how people would react, and I agree with what you said that because of hate and evil people she lost her life, and I say "her" because I really believe that's who she really was inside, how very tragic. That song makes me cry.(Great hub btw:) ge


Sunny Robinson profile image

Sunny Robinson 6 years ago from Tennessee

I don't know that she kept her gender a secret. I believe it was more that she believed who she was and therefore did not have to explain that she was something else before.

This was nicely written, and it's very tragic! Thank you for sharing.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

I remember this television movie, ladyjane, and it was realistic and very moving. If not actually a hermaphrodite (someone with the genitalia of both sexes), Gwen/Eddie was almost certainly a transgender candidate. Her sad story underscores the importance of transgender education in the U.S.

Your hub is well-written and well-illustrated.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks geegee when I saw this movie I thought that it was the saddest thing ever. The actor who portrayed Gwen is very talented and was very believable in this character. The movie was hard to watch at times but something that everyone should watch. Thanks for reading, cheers.

@Sunny thanks for reading and for your comments. I agree that to Gwen she felt that she was a girl from the get go and felt that she didn't have to explain as you said but on the other hand I think if you are going to engage in sexual behavior then the other person has the right to know what their partners gender is...of course by no means am I saying that this shouldve happened because of it. This was a senseless and cowardly act upon someone just because they were different. Thanks for reading, cheers.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

drbj thanks for reading and for your nice comments, I agree with you about more education especially for people who think people such as Gwen are freaks without even bothering to get to know or trying to understand them. Education=tolerance. cheers.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago

I think I may have heard this before, it is a horrendous crime. This is a well written hub. Well done. By the way, I could not hear the song, it has been blocked because of copyright in this country.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

What a tragic life, than such an awful ending. Transgender education is certainly lacking and you wrote an excellent hub about this youngsters life.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Hummingbird thanks for reading and for commenting, sorry that you couldn't hear the video but I was able to hear the video with no problems just now. Cheers.

Pamela thanks for the nice comment and I agree with you about the education being lacking. Cheers.


rose56 profile image

rose56 6 years ago

I remember the movie ,and yes it was tragic, and she was a very pretty person. To bad people are so cruel, why cant a person let others live their life's the way they want to. This is their own business as long as no one gets hurt , but to seek out someone just to hurt them because they don't agree with their way of life is just wrong. Live and let live.Everyone wants to be loved.


tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 6 years ago from home

LJ,

i am not a fan of "transgender education" there has to be a way for anyone with a personality issue to get help- I know I sound cro-magnon but- mistruths are bad and nothing is good about lying-

Murder is rarely acceptable- but-this case it is just plain wrongI hope those 4 macho guys get their own version of prison love in the clink- It would not be fair to the dead but it would be "somewhat appropriate and deserved" an ironic ending a "penetrating lesson in the end".A.... ok you get the point I think I'll go hunt some wolley mammoth now with big club ....

TH.


ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 6 years ago

LadyJane,

You have written an excellent hub. Those sorts of hate crimes are still happening and what you have written here can help make them stop. It's just not right to think that people like Gwen have to deny who they really feel they are just to make sure they don't become the next victim of a hate crime. And then there are the brave ones who don't hide who they are no matter how dangerous it is. That's very heroic if you ask me.

~AC


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

I remember this story from when it happened. There was another similar story around that same time, though I forget the details. I do remember that in that case the boy had simply professed his love for another boy, but there had been no contact. The other boy killed him anyway. You're absolutely right about this attitude spreading when someone just speaks out in an intolerant manner. It affects others and builds the hate.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Rose56 thanks for reading and I couldn't agree with you more. This was a senless tragic event and one that most people who have a son or daughter fear for everday, I appreciate your support Cheers.

@Tom I definitely get your point and I think these guys are gonna get it in the end so to speak lol thanks for reading cheers.

@AC thanks for your support on this issue I do think that people do need to be educated and learn to accept people who are different and the more we do that the more tolerant society will become hopefully it will deminish the violence cheers.

@Christop thanks for reading and Im not sure of the case you mentioned but I do remember the movie Boys don't cry with Hillary Swank and it was a very similar case and she was murdered. Was very sad but hopefully if more and more people do speak out and make others aware things will hopefully change. Cheers to you.


electricsky profile image

electricsky 6 years ago from North Georgia

What a sad story. I hope the young men who did that to her get their due punishment.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

electicsky thanks for reading and I agree with you unfortunately none of the boys received harsh enough sentences for what they did to Gwen. It is a very sad story, thanks for stopping by,Cheers.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, ladyjane, I think the trouble is that people do not understand why someone is transexual. Straight away people, especially young people think it is to do with sex, it isn't, in fact that is the last thing it is about. When a baby is in the womb, it is always female for a few weeks until the hormones kick in and make them male or female, for men it is tostesterone and for women estrogen. when the hormone floods the body it then makes the baby male or female. Two points on this one, first if the male body has been formed and something stops the tostesterone, it will develop more estrogen and make the baby more girl like, and second, in a transexuals brain, there is part of the hypothalmus I think it is, not sure as I can't remember, but there is a part of the brain that is circular on a boy and elongated on a girl. Transexuals boy to girls, have a girl elongated part of the brain! I know it sounds amazing but this is true. I studied psychology for four years at Oxford, and in my town, in evening classes and we discussed this. so if this sort of education was told then maybe it would help. thanks rated up nell


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Hello Nell thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I pretty much knew that something happens in a boys brain that makes them feel like they are girls but I didn't know all the technical terms for it. I appreciate the education there is so much that we can do as a society to educate people about this so that there may be less violence against these people. I think that fear and ignorance is a dangerous combination when it comes to situations such as this. I appreciate you reading and thanks again for stopping by. Cheers.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

This is so sad! Those murderers exposed evilness, complete absence of toleration and empathy. They have all the ungodly characteristics I can think of. My heart goes out to people with sexual deficiencies. I see many growing up before me. Their personal struggles to accept themselves, and their continuous efforts to make themselves acceptable, just break my heart. Nobody has the right to judge and condemn them, one should rather be grateful that he/she is sexually normal before pointing fingers at those who are not. Oh, I just can’t tolerate any kind of ruthlessness. Thanks for hubbing this with so much comprehension and empathy, ladyjane. PS: I agree with Nell Rose and with the researchers who have proved all of that.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

MartieCoetser thanks for reading and I agree with you and Nell. I also agree that no one has the right to judge and condemn these people. Appreciate your comments and for stopping by. Cheers.


Whidbeywriter profile image

Whidbeywriter 6 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

Very sad story - I also had not heard about her and her tragic death. I would love to see the movie or read the book. It is horrific what those boys did and hope they will be in prison for a very long time. Thank you for sharing this - blessings to you sis.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

whidbeywriter thanks for reading and unfortunately these boys will probably be out in about 15 years on parole and no amount of time would be sufficient for what they did. Cheers cheers..


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

terribly sad story, ladyjane1. I agree with you that the brutality of these boys was horrific. Their humiliation caused this terrible revenge, but being embarrassed offers no excuse for such behavior. When will we learn? I wonder, I really wonder.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Storytellersrus thanks for reading my hub, and I often wonder myself when we will learn. Maybe when some ignorant people educate themselves instead of judging. Thanks for stopping by cheers.


johnshade profile image

johnshade 6 years ago from Pandora

This is a tragic story indeed,

It does beg the question whether the boy's that were tricked into sleeping with her, are at best guilty of a 'heat of passion' crime rather than murder.

I do believe they had a right to knowing the sexual orientation of a partner however it doesn't justify the crime, she was too young to have ill intentions.

Thanks for the hub, I was unaware of this tragedy, may her soul find peace.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

johnshade thanks for the read and your nice comments I completely agree with you cheers.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

Society is easy to blame for the shortcomings of those who make it up. I heard some poor excuses for murder but that one definitely reeks of the bottom of the barrel. If we could blame society, maybe we should set Charles Manson free and apologize for all the years that we have mistreated him. Maybe if society were to blame, we wrongly convicted those men who buried the civil rights workers in the pond dam or assassinated Martin Luther King. It does not fly. Certain Gwen set herself up for trouble by hiding her gender. That element can infuriate a man who might become involved affectionately. There is no reasonable basis on which to fool people to be in love with you...dishonesty and love don't mix. This is a very sad story with bad decisions on both sides and no winners. Thanks for sharing it in the great way you always deliver a subject LJ...WB


loriamoore 6 years ago

Very interesting.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Wayne thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you that society is definitely not to blame and these boys should be held responsible for their actions. And you are right about dishonesty, thanks for reading as always, cheers.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Loorimoore thanks for reading appreciate ya. Cheers.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

I agree with Wayne Brown about hiding who you really are. It can get carried away and become very dangerous and put one in a very seriously dangerous situation as it did her/him. I knew a transgender years ago he would do the same and go out to bars to get picked up. He/she was a loose cannon.

I found out from other friends who knew him/her that he was pushed into the fast moving waters in Niagara Falls and his/her body was washed up on shore a few days later.

I saw the movie as well and no doubt these boys had to be accountable for the death, Life is so fragile and sad. Good job Ladyjane you gave an honest account.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

saddlerider1 great to see you again. How sad that in this day and age this sort of hate crime still exists. Your story was very sad as well and I hate to hear about anyone being hurt. I know its wrong for people to lie about their gender but hurting them is never the answer I agree. Thanks for stopping by and for your insightful comments. Cheers.


oscarwms profile image

oscarwms 6 years ago from PA

A very well written article. The story is very sad. I just don't understand why some boy could not love Gwen. It is beyond me why they had to kill her. I don't quite understand what makes boys transgender or homosexual and bi-sexual. But is not worth taking a life for. My brother-inlaw was a homosexual that loved to cross dress. When he put on his drag it wasn't many women who could look good as he did. I would be a fool to say I was not attracted to the way he looked but not to him. here is what I think. Some men hate what they see in others that are in them so they lash out instead of confronting it and dealing with it.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

oscarwms thanks for reading and you are right when you say that they didn't have to kill Gwen it was senseless. You know I have a son that is gay but he is not a cross dresser so not all transgender are gay if that makes any sense because in Gwen's mind she was a girl and so if she would have been gay she would want to be with girls but she wanted to be with straight guys because her mind told her she was a girl it is complex but has something to do with not enough testosterone in male when they are born. I was really taken aback by this story and felt for her very much and its a shame that her life ended the way it did. Thanks for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment. Cheers to you.


Erin Dick 6 years ago

I was good friends with both Pearl and Gwen when we were all still in elementary school. My brother and Gwen rode bikes together, this was when she was still Eddie. In jr high school, I lost contact with Pearl and her family (who lived in my same complex). In 2002 I sat with my best friend watching the news when this picture came across the screen and I recongnized the person. I couldn't put the name to the face until I remembered my childhood friend. Almost instantly I started balling becauuse I remembered who that amazing face was and heard that she was murdered. Not only was she brutally beaten, but killed for something as juvinial as a bunch of guys finding out that she was a he. I didn't actually know about Gwen until the story broke because to me she was always Eddie. Then I heard that the guy who confessed was a kid I went to school with. I was in utter shock. How could someone in today's society be so close minded. Gwen is a beautiful human being and will forever be missed. I just hope that people can learn from the tragedy of Gwen's death. Gwen, I know you are looking down on the world, and I hope you know how loved and treasured you truly are.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas Author

Erin thanks for sharing your experience with Gwen with us. It must have been quite a shock when this happened. I didn't know Gwen but her story touched me deeply and so did the movie I saw about her. I agree with you that she will be missed. My heart goes out to her family. Thanks for reading, cheers.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wow! I just read this hub-well written and soooo sad. I recall seeing a movie about the opposite-a girl pretending she was a boy and boys in Texas, I think, killing her after brutally raping her. It is awful and so very sad.

I can understand the dilemma these parents face. Hopefully there will be more enlightened parents who are able to educate the public about transgender sexuality.


TomBlalock profile image

TomBlalock 4 years ago from Hickory, NC

Just saw this posted up, and I thought I would give it a read. It is an excellent article, and brings to light an objective picture of the situation. Thank you for a new take on a type of discrimination that is becoming more and more common with today's changing society, as well as taking the time to illustrate that while transgendered people present new issues for morality and ethics, such as concealment of one's original gender, that we must pay careful attention that such slights are not met with brutal retaliation such as highlighted in your article. I can't say I'm generally a fan of people like that, but it isn't my life to live, and what was done to him/her was inexcusable and cruel. Thanks once more for taking the time to write up that article.


ripgweniloveyou 4 years ago

I have a friend who is transgendered and I love her with all of my heart thank you gwen for showing us how to be our selfs! RIP you will never be forgotten


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

I wonder how much the world has changed in the 10 years since her murder. It would be nice to think people are more tolerant and understanding, but sadly I'm not sure that's the case.

Voted up.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 3 years ago from Texas Author

I often wonder the same thing...its very sad..thanks for reading LongTimeMother and cheers to you


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

Thank you for sharing this hub. It is very heart breaking. I feel so sorry for her mother, what a horrible thing to face.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 3 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks Michele for stopping by and for the comment cheers.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

ladyjane1

Terrific hub. A must-read for people who need to see life for what it really is. I really love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

2, I loved the way you worded this hub.

3. Graphics, superb.

4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

5. Voted Up--but NOT funny, and all of the choices.

6. I loved your topic of this hub.

You are certainly a gifted writer. Please keep up the fine work.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama


Pajamatime profile image

Pajamatime 2 years ago from 4616 18 Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11204

That's so sad, and frighting to see what we are capable of just because others don't conform to the norm. Emma Watson's recent UN speech was about this issue www.buzzfeed.com/rossalynwarren/emma-watson-says-that-the-view-feminism-is-man-hating-has-to#3zab7yn.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 2 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you kenneth for your kind words. When i heard of this story i was horrified, appreciate your time, cheers.

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