Via Queen Emily, reports came in last week of yet another trans woman being murdered. Her name was Paulina Ibarra, she was 24-years-old, and she died in her apartment from stab wounds on August 28th. But her murder only made the news last week, when police identified a person of interest, named Jesus Catalan.
Los Angeles Police investigators say the transgender community was key in indentifying this person of interest in this murder case. They released a photograph of Jesus Catalan Thursday. Catalan, 24, is a wanted parolee at large and the man that detectives want to question about Paulina Ibarra’s murder.
Ibarra, a 24-year old transgendered woman, was stabbed to death inside her Hollywood apartment on August 28.
Investigators say they know that Catalan was inside Ibarra’s apartment but they don’t know exactly what happened between the two. Police do know that Catalan is known to frequent transgender prostitutes.
Jesus Catalan is 24 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, and has a tattoo on his right arm. He is known to frequent the Hollywood and West Hollywood areas. If you have any information on his whereabouts you’re urged to call the LAPD tip line at (877) LAPD-24-7. That is (877) 527-3247.
Notice how even though there is no evidence presented whatsoever that Ibarra was a sex worker, it’s heavily implied that she was, in line with the stereotype that all trans women are sex workers. And while the victim being a trans woman is more than enough to turn police (and media) off of a case in most instances, a victim’s believed identity as as sex worker also has the same horrific effect, thus compounding the already enormous problem of prejudice. Indeed, the statement about how the transgender community was key in identifying Catalan might be an indication that they were already working hard, as trans activists regularly do, to get police to care at all.
Queen Emily and commenters at Questioning Transphobia discuss some of the other problems with the article, as well.
Paulina Ibarra is hardly the only trans woman whose murder has been ignored and/or quickly forgotten by those in positions of power (police, media, etc.). Such reaction is part of a widespread trend. But Ibarra, like all the others, matters. Victoria Ortega says in the article, “We’re here to say that we’re not going to let somebody come in and kill one of our members and just let it happen and let it be forgotten.” And those of us who are cis, and especially those of us who purport to care about women, need to stand up and denounce this constant devaluing of certain human lives (usually certain women’s lives), too.
If you are in the area, please also view the wanted poster for Jesus Catalan here (pdf), and pass it along.