Remembering Transgender Immigrant Activist Zoraida Reyes

Categories: Main

zoraida_vigil.jpg
Aimee Murillo / OC Weekly
A procession made its way down West Fourth Street in Santa Ana Friday evening in memory of Zoraida "Ale" Reyes, a 28-year-old transgender immigrant rights activist whose body turned up the day before near a Dairy Queen in Anaheim. A somber mood hung over the gathering of about 200 that ended at Sasscer Park, with mourners offering flowers, prayers, and testimonies in remembering Reyes' life. Her mother attended, as did friends and those in the activist community.

Circumstances surrounding Reyes' death are still unclear, though Anaheim police deemed them "suspicious." Department spokesman Lt. Bob Dunn encourages anyone with information about the case to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers - (855) TIP-OCCS with anonymity granted upon request. For now the investigation continues.

"The cause of death remains undetermined according to the Coroner's autopsy," Anaheim police spokesman Lt. Bob Dunn says of Reyes. "Toxicology reports are pending."

At the candlelight vigil, the uneasy sense that Reyes' death was a hate crime loomed over the crowd. "She was my best, best friend. Probably the best, best friend I could ever ask for," said a tearful Alexa Vasquez to the crowd. "We always hear statistics. We always hear about transgender statistics and their numbers. Well, today it wasn't a number. It was my sister. It was my best friend."

Kevin O'Grady, Executive Director of The Center OC didn't know Zoraida Reyes, but several of his staff did. "It's been a rough week," he said. "Unfortunately, this brings home to Orange County what happens across the nation everyday. Transgender women are subject to murder, violence and attack. What I hope it does is bring the rest of the LGB community behind in support of the transgender community and that everybody stands together."

A program for the vigil noted Reyes as born in Michoacán. She later migrated to Santa Ana, going through Century High School, Santa Ana College and UC Santa Barbara. As an undocumented student, she became involved as an activist with the Orange County DREAM Team (OCDT) and DeColores Queer Orange County. Her death has sent a chill outside county lines-- with a vigil held in Phoenix over the weekend and another one planned in San Francisco for tomorrow.

"She was really funny," says OCDT activist Hairo Cortes. He worked with Reyes recently for a LGBTQ immigrant rights protest outside the Santa Ana city jail last month where five protesters were arrested for civil disobedience. "I remember we needed someone to do an interview and she said 'Oh, just put some makeup on Hairo, he has the hair!'"

Smoke from burning sage disappeared into the evening sky. A collection box for funeral donations made its way through the crowd. Chants of "Not One More / Ni Una Más" echoed with their spirit of stopping deportations, but were colored that night by the desire to stop violence against the transgender community.

As the vigil came to a close, a song by Mexican singer Gloria Trevi played as Reyes was a big fan. But friends left behind wondered how to deal with the grief of their loss.

"I just don't know where to go as a transgender activist after this," Vasquez said. "It's real, and I keep on saying this, but it hurts."

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter@ocweekly or on Facebook!


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
18 comments
Steve SanFilipo
Steve SanFilipo

Thank you for the reply, Heather. You're right. I know not what it's like to be transgender. I am ignorant of that. Not sure how it is that you think I harbor hate. I don't hate transgenders. In fact I expressed that this person had every right to live and even pretend to be something he/she isn't. Whatever. You have no idea what it's like to be me but you spread your anger and hate for reasons I don't understand. Good day to you, sir.

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

Thank God for his death.  Because you don't have any sympathy for American citizens who were murdered by illegal aliens then I don't have any sympathy for your people who are killed.

Steve SanFilipo
Steve SanFilipo

I perused your photo's and discovered why that comment made you so angry. You are one of them, too. I apologize if I have offended you. As I said, it certainly had a right to live. That goes for you, too. I'll even go so far as to say that if people such as yourself want to pass yourself off as something you're not, that's your right. Good luck with the angry approach.

Kris Horton
Kris Horton

Murder is murder, bad is bad. I don't believe any type of murder deserves more press or outrage than any other. This is terrible either way, but yes, the title was spun to tug at certain heartstrings. It's the media doing their thing...nothing new.

Kris Horton
Kris Horton

Ok...first of all, calm down. You have now misunderstood my comments twice. You are so quick to be outraged by comments that have zero double-meaning (except in your eyes). You seem to be raging against me because of your own short-sightedness. I never once said anything negative about the transgender person that was killed. I was commenting on the confusing title. My multitasking comment was aimed at the fact that they were an activist for two segments. Good for them. The humor in my comment was ill-placed, yes, but you instead argued the semantics of one word and not the bad timing. Look, I appreciate you sticking up for people who are oppressed and fighting for equality, but what I don't appreciate is that you are exactly the type of person that gives activists a bad name. You can't, even for a second, step back and think "maybe this person isn't attacking me and is just making an off-hand comment." No, you decide to go on a moral crusade against me and generalizing in exactly the same way you claim I am doing (speaking against straight, white men). I am a supporter of gender and marriage equality. I have respect for people who come from all walks of life, and I can appreciate when they stand up for what they believe in. What I don't respect is when people seem to be outraged just to be pissed off about something. I'm sure anything I say will be in one ear and out the other and that you will have another tirade banged out momentarily, but I just wanted to say my bit. That's all.

Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare

God are you really this thick? Here's a little lesson for you since you seem to consider any kind of identity other than straight cis white male as something of an oddity or "multitasking" or whatever underhanded bullshit comment you pull out of your ass but there's a little thing called intersectionality, as in, forms of oppression can fucking intersect with one another, hence the necessity for "oddly specific" activism for transgender immigrants, and LGBT immigrants, because THESE FORMS OF OPPRESSION FUCKING INTERSECT THEREBY MAKING THE NECESSITY FOR ACTIVISM BECAUSE THESE "ODDLY SPECIFIC" PEOPLE ARE BEING LARGELY IGNORED AND MARGINALIZED FURTHER. The mainstream LGBT groups like the HRC don't particularly give a fuck about things like immigration reform, even though it affects a large part of our community, they are more interested in something cute and friendly like marriage, again creating a necessity for those "oddly specific" intersectional activists you are so perplexed by. Also nice one liking that dickweed's comment misgendering and disrespecting a dead transwoman, you wankstain. Are all cishet white men literally this horrible or is it just men in Orange County?

Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare

Oh and calling a trans woman "it"? Just stuff yourself in a fucking dumpster with the rest of the garbage you shit filled diaper.

Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare

Yeah god forbid a trans woman's murder comes off as heinous. Eat shit dude.

Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare

That's hilarious coming from a dude who's ancestors probs came here from Europe to colonize a land that was already inhabited.

Kris Horton
Kris Horton

Shannon, you misunderstand my use of the word "odd," I just meant it's very specific to cover two broad groups like that. Not sure if you fall into one or both of those categories yourself, but I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being both, I guess I just figured people cover one cause at a time. Hooray for multitasking though.

Steve SanFilipo
Steve SanFilipo

I assume that "immigrants rights" is code for "illegal immigrants" rights and I don't really give a crap about the rights of illegals. However, it certainly had a right to live.

Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare

Kris, you were right about one thing in that comment. You certainly do sound like an ass. How are trans immigrants "oddly specific"? You do realise you can be both at the same time, right? That cishet white male isn't the default setting?

Kris Horton
Kris Horton

I'm going to go out on a limb here and probably sound like an ass, but was this person an activist for Transgender rights and happened to be an immigrant? Or an immigrant who was an activist for Transgender rights? Or to be oddly specific, an activist for Transgender Immigrants? Any which way, this is very sad and I hope those responsible are found.

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...