Gwen Amber Rose AraujoAge 17
3 Oct 2002
Newark, California (USA)
Beaten and strangled
TDoR list ref: tdor.info/3 Oct 2002/Gwen Araujo
Gwen was beaten and strangled to death at a house party by Michael Magidson, Jose Merél, Jaron Nabors and Jason Casarez after they discovered that she was transgender.
After killing her, they wrapped her body in a blanket and buried it in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
In exchange for his testimony against the other defendants, Nabors pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. The other three men, charged with first-degree murder and committing a hate crime, invoked the transgender "panic defense,” claiming that the victim provoked the attack by having sex under false pretenses. By invoking this defense, Magidson and Merél were convicted of second-degree murder and acquitted of the hate crime. Casarez pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.
Araujo's murder helped bring awareness to the incidence of violence against transgender people and the “panic defense.” In 2006, California enacted the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act. The law allows a judge to instruct jurors not to consider their anti-LGBT biases during deliberations. That same year, Lifetime aired an original movie, “A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story.”. The case was also the subject of a 2007 documentary, “Trained in the Ways of Men.”
A year after her murder, Horizons Foundation created a fund to reduce the ignorance and hatred that caused this terrible hate crime in the Bay Area by supporting, through annual modest-sized grants, school-based programs in the nine-county Bay Area that promote understanding of transgender people and issues.
Sylvia Guerrero had never even heard the word “transgender” until her 17-year-old daughter Gwen Araujo, born a son named Eddie, was brutally murdered. Today she’s an admired activist for transgender causes, even though the horror of Gwen’s fate has upended her life.
Gwen, often called a woman, was really just a 90-pound girl with no chance against the four drunken young men, including two who had been sexually intimate with her, Guerrero said. They viciously beat and strangled Gwen to death at a Newark house party on Oct. 4, 2002, after they confirmed she was biologically male.