Thousands took to the streets of the Mexican capital calling for justice after news emerged that a prominent non-binary activist had been found dead. The body of Jesús Ociel Baena was discovered in their home in Aguascalientes on Monday, November 13, next to another person who has since been identified as their partner, Dorian Herrera.
The pair reportedly displayed injuries thought to be caused by a knife or some other sharp object, and the state prosecutor’s office confirmed that “one of the lifeless bodies found was holding a cutting instrument.”
Mexico’s Security Minister Risa Icela Rodriguez said it is unclear “if it was a homicide or…some kind of accident”, while Aguascalientes’ Attorney General Jesús Figueroa Ortega stated, “There are no signs or indications to be able to determine that a third person other than the dead was at the site of the crime.”
While Figueroa also explained that the case would be investigated from a gender perspective due to Baena’s non-binary identity, there was no mention of the deaths being linked to a potential hate crime.
In response to the tragic incident, the Mexican LGBTQ+ community has been urging authorities to conduct a thorough inquiry without prejudice.
Alejandro Brito, Director of Letra S, credited Baena with “breaking through the invisible barriers that closed in the nonbinary community,” further revealing that the 38-year-old had received “many hate messages, and even threats of violence and death,” in response to their visible activism.
“You can’t ignore that in these investigations,” Brito stressed.
Baena was thought to be the first non-binary person in Latin America to take up a judicial position after they became a magistrate for the Aguascalientes state electoral court in October 2022. Additionally, the Mexican activist was one of the first people to be issued a non-binary passport in the country, receiving the history-making document in May 2023.
Soy persona no binaria, no me interesa verme mujer ni tampoco hombre, esa es una identidad, es mía y para mí, para nadie más. No le debo nada a la cisheteronorma. ¡Es mi perro y yo lo baño! Soporten pic.twitter.com/L7J8T8psME
— OCIEL BAENA (@ocielbaena) June 22, 2023
“If this was a crime motivated by prejudice, these kinds of crimes always have the intention of sending a message,” Brito continued. “The message is an intimidation; it’s to say: ‘This is what could happen to you if you make your identities public’.”
A vigil attendee, Nish López, who came out as non-binary partly due to Baena’s inspiration, commented, “I loved them because they made people uncomfortable, but they knew what they were doing…Through institutions, they showed that you can inspire change regardless of your gender identity.”
López added, “I’m not scared, I’m angry,” and walked the streets to make themselves visible, continuing on Baena’s legacy.
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