MONTREAL — One of the saddest stories I ever reported on as an LGBT blogger on my newspaper’s website — the Montreal Gazette — was about Jennifer Laude, a trans woman in the Philippines who was found dead in a motel in Manila in October 2014, apparently strangled and then drowned in a toilet bowl.
A U.S. Marine was arrested in the case. In short, he and Jennifer met in a bar, went to a motel, and he freaked out when he discovered she was a trans person.
Today, the Marine, Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, was finally convicted in her death — of homicide. His sentence: 6 to 12 years, credited with time already spent in detention. And he has to pay Jennifer’s mother $98,000 in compensation.
I remember how Jennifer’s mother wept for the person she called her “son,” and she said Jennifer took care of her mom and provided for her. We have pictures on file at the paper of her mom standing by Jennifer’s coffin, and of the candlelight vigils held in Manila for Jennifer.
It was a story that touched people around the world . . . such a senseless tragedy.
I heard from several readers when I wrote about Jennifer. They asked me not to forget her, to make sure I followed up on this case. Well, I’m not blogging for the paper anymore. But I am an editor there, and today I pulled in the Associated Press wire story about her, handled it, added some photos to it, and posted it on the home page of our website . . . and it was the most-read article there for several hours.
I don’t know if any of the people who contacted me at the paper are reading this blog, but I just want them to know I never forgot Jennifer.
Today, I not only remember Jennifer here. I remember that too many trans people are falling victims to transphobic violence.
I remember that they are my sisters . . . And I cry for them.
Rest in peace, Jenn.
— Jillian Page