Gwen Araujo’s mother speaks about the murder of her transgender daughter

Gwen Araujo

14 years after the murder of Gwen Araujo her mother Sylvia Guerrero carries on the fight to educate while burdened with the memories of the horrific crime. Mother Guerrero who now lives in a friend’s car has the goodness of heart to forgive one of the remorseful murderers at his parole board.

The 2002 murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo was reported in ways of old, misgendering, and deadnaming her. By present-day standards, the USA Today reporting would itself be considered a hate crime. At the request of Araujo’s mother, a judge posthumously changed her legal to Gwen Amber Rose Araujo on June 23, 2004

On the 12th of September, after the jury announced that it had deadlocked on the third defendant, the verdicts were announced. The defendant on whom the jury had deadlocked was Cazares. Magidson and Merél were each convicted of second-degree murder, but not convicted of the hate crime enhancement allegations.

Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Chris Lamiero, who represented the prosecution in the case, undermined criminal intent by commenting:

Gwen being transgender was not a provocative act. He’s who he was. However, I would not further ignore the reality that Gwen made some decisions in his relation with these defendants that were impossible to defend. I don’t think most jurors are going to think it’s OK to engage someone in sexual activity knowing they assume you have one sexual anatomy when you don’t.

Trans panic is a defense applied towards cases where the victim is a transgender or intersex person. The most odious aspect of the trans panic defense is that it plays to the biases of jury members who willingly accept verbatim the reasons for the crime given by the defense. In 2014, California became the first state in the U.S. to officially ban the use of trans panic and gay panic defenses in murder trials. This defense has only been banned in California, but the American Bar Association has suggested that other states follow California’s lead.

2008 six years after the murder of Gwen Araujo her mother prophetically spoke at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Alecia Reid’s incredibly selfless advocacy deserves the respect that it deserves. Trans Panic was banned in California along with gay panic partly due to the work of this brave woman. Gwen Araujo is resting in the arms of all of our angels. Thank you mother Alecia.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


  1. This is SYLVIA GUERRERO and I am the mother of GWEN ARAUJO. Your article made the error of printing this article and referring to me as “Alecia Reid”??!


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