Remembering Slain Transgender Teen Gwen Araujo
|Pearl and Gwen, sisters|
Gwen Araujo is a hero not many people know. She wasn't a politician or a lawyer -- she wasn't even an activist, but her death changed many laws and many lives in the transgender community.
Araujo was born a healthy baby boy named Edward Araujo Jr., but Araujo never felt like a boy. Sylvia Guerrero, Araujo's mother, said before Araujo was born that she dreamed she had a daughter and preemptively named her Amber Rose.
Guerrero said that from an early age, she knew that her child was different, and from kindergarten through high school, she watched her child be teased, bullied, harassed, and treated very differently than other children. Guerrero spent a lot of time in the principal's office, fighting for and defending her child on several occasions.
In 1999, a very brave Araujo confessed to her mother, that while she was born a boy, she did not identify as one. She told her mom how she felt "like a freak" and did not understand why she was born a boy. Araujo then decided, that she no longer wanted to be called Eddie. After several girl names she decided on Gwen, after her idol Gwen Stefani.
During Gwen's transition, Guerrero and her family went to their family church and the reception to Gwen was far from loving. So Guerrero and her entire family walked out because they did not want Gwen to feel ostracized. Guerrero is a deeply religious woman, and it hurt that her church of all places would discriminate against her daughter and family.
|Sylvia Guerrero with Gwen's Urn|
Guerrero watched her child turn to drugs and alcohol due to the despair and depression she was facing on a regular basis. By the time Gwen was 17, she had transitioned into a knockout and the attention she received from boys was very noticeable.
A few months before Gwen's murder, she was with friends, and a so-called female friend outed Gwen to a man who was clearly interested in her. Upon finding out that Gwen had male genitalia, he cracked a beer bottle and jabbed Gwen in the stomach with it.
Guerrero was called and immediately rushed to pick up her daughter. Guerrero was understandably upset and began to ask Araujo if she understood just how scared she was for her. Guerrero knew the world was an ugly place and she feared that one day, something insidious would happen to her daughter because she was transgender and identified as female.