she wanted to be a “trans face in the court room” to illustrate that trans gender people were real
humans. Even though it was emotionally strenuous to attend trial, Gwen say that she would do it
again because it is important to show:
“That a transgender person was not some abstract concept, even in a case involving a
deceased trans woman. While I don't think being visible is a complete solution to discrimination
and violence –and may even increase it in some instances– it is nevertheless important for those
who can to stand up and be visible, lest someone else fill that void with their own erroneous and
biased versions of what they think* a trans person is. If all you've ever known of trans people are
late-night comedian jokes and fearmongering about bathrooms, what would you think of trans
people? Instead, let's put an actual transperson in the room, and challenge those
The second trial convicted Jose Merel and Michael Magidson of second degree murder.
These two men had sexual relations with Gwen weeks prior to murdering her. The third, Jason
Cazares, pleaded no contest to manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison. None of
them were charged with a hate crime.
After the second trial, the California State Assembly passed laws in Gwen Araujo’s name
to disallow the use of “trans-panic” as defense in court. In June 2004, there was a trial to
posthumously legally change Gwen Araujo’s name. That was successful, but still strung out the
case for everyone even longer. Two years of court and trials and murder. Even when the trial was
settled, a 2006 article by SF Gate, wrote “An Alameda County judge sentenced three men to
prison today for their roles in the 2002 slaying of a Newark teenager who was biologically a boy
but lived as a girl, ending a nationally watched case that focused attention on violence against
transgender individuals”(Lee). Notice how Gwen Araujo, the victim, is not even mentioned by
It wasn’t as if the other parts of Gwen’s life paused as trials were going on; in 2002, she
was given a certificate from the San Francisco Department of Public Health for TransBay, a
drop-in social and support group in San Francisco. Gwen and two other trans activists saw the
need for a support group that mirrored the candidness of the coffee hour that usually followed a
formal support group meeting. They decided to meet at a coffeehouse called Quetzal in the
Tenderloin district of San Francisco for relaxed, leaderless social meetings. At those meetings,
she gave people advice and connected them to health resources, just as she did online.
Gwen is especially proud of her work with bathrooms in San Francisco around this same
time. She told me about getting “the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a health benefits
ordinance for transgendered city employees as part of the City and County of San Francisco's
Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force. This task force also mandated that all
single occupancy bathrooms in the city would be gender neutral.” Then, in 2003, she was given
the TGSF President’s award for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the
transgender community by the president of Transgender San Francisco, formerly the
Educational TV Channel (and by TV I mean Transvestite, not Television). She was also
interviewed on the O’Reilly Factor, speaking out for a transgender parent who was chaperoning
their child on a field trip at a school. In 2004, she was a Vagina Warrior for Valentine’s Day
(“V-Day LA 2004: Commemorative Page | Deep Stealth Productions”), and she earned a
certificate of recognition from the California Legislature assembly for Transgender Day of
Remembrance and an official proclamation from the city and county of San Francisco
acknowledging Transgender Day of Remembrance. She also had an article written about her
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