JonCasey William Rowell, 29, has been charged with first degree murder and is being held in Travis County Jail on a $250,000 bond, in connection with the Jan. 22 shooting death of Monica Loera, a 43-year-old Austin trans woman, according to reports posted yesterday (Friday, Jan. 29) by Monica Roberts on her TransGriot blog.
This is the first reported murder of a transgender person in 2016, Roberts said. She also noted that the most in the LGBT community were unaware of Loera’s murder for about a week because Austin-area media misgendered her in their reports.
Pink News, a LGBT news outlet in the United Kingdom, reported that several Austin-area media outlets “reported a police plea for information which identified the victim as ‘David Loera’ and circulated an old pre-transition driver’s license photo.”
In an article in the Austin Chronicle, writer Nina Hernandez took other media to task for their callous treatment of Loera’s murder, noting that “the wild curls and wide grins from her Facebook page — and above all else, her chosen name — have been omitted to a staggering degree. Instead Loera has been described using her birth name and masculine pronouns.”
There has been, Hernandez continued, “no public acknowledgement of her death or the [transgender] community that has been further traumatized in its wake. And that’s wrong.”
Witnesses told police Loera was “engaged in conversation” with a man in front of her home in north Austin when the man shot her. Witnesses’ description of the shooter and messages he allegedly left on Loera’s phone led police to Rowell.
At least 21 transgender women, nearly all of them trans women of color, were murdered in 2015, including two in Texas: Ty Underwood, killed in January 2015 in Tyler, and Ms. Shade, found dead in a field in Dallas in July. Activists agree that the number of victims is likely much higher since many transgender victims are misgendered by police and the media, as was initially the case with Loera.
Roberts pledged that she will be “watching this case until our sister receives justice” and to update her readers as she gets new information.
“Rest in power and peace, Monica,” Roberts wrote on her blog. “Your trans family and all who loved you will not rest until justice is served.”