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.
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.
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.
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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