As authorities continue to investigate the death of a Corpus Christi woman, her sister wants the community to know how special she was.
“Everyone in the community, family and friends, knew him to be the kindest most gentle human being in this world,” said Janie Montez, Stephanie Montez’s sister. “To me, he was my beautiful sweet sister.”
On Oct. 21, deputies responded to a call for service at County Road 61 outside of Robstown where Stephanie Montez, 47, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds. Montez was eventually identified as a transgender woman.
“We are not exactly sure what she was wearing, but he (Juan Montez) appeared to be dressed as a female,” reported Capt. Monica Rios from the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office.
Although Rios also reported that the homicide is unrelated to Montez’s lifestyle, the prominent Corpus Christi LGBT community, many of whom had known Montez, held a trans rights rally on Nov. 4 to promote trans- and queer safety in the United States.
According to the Human Rights Campaign organization, roughly 25 cases of transgender hate crime murders have occurred this year in the United States alone. Montez’s case has been claimed the 24th. Sheriff officials working on the case have refused comment during the investigation, but local media have reported the homicide may be linked to a theft.
As breaking news, the local media had used male pronouns when referring to Montez. Kathy Huff, board president of the local PFLAG chapter, took notice and called and corrected multiple news outlets.
“Original reports got their information from Nueces County,” Huff said. “They’d (initially) got her name in death misgendered, and in the police report as well.”
While the homicide has made many in the local LGBT community nervous, acceptance and safe spaces seem more imperative than ever.
According to Teresa Klein, co-adviser of the Del Mar LGBT Safe Space group, the college’s policy includes nondiscrimination for students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and is working to get more LGBT-specific faculty training.
“It just brought it home,” Klein said. “I think people are aware that transgendered people face a lot of discrimination.”
For more information about Del Mar’s Safe Space group, check out their Facebook page at @DMCSafeSpace.