An LGBTQ+ activist in Colorado is bringing public attention to missing queer people and hoping to find justice for as many of them as possible.
Queer trans man Lazarus Rise began examining local cases after he started studying criminal justice and forensics, according to local TV station KUSA. While he couldn’t complete the degree, he still wanted to use the knowledge he had.
Specifically, one case stood out to him. It involved an unidentified trans woman who was called Julie Doe. Authorities believe she was killed in Florida in 1988. In 2015, investigators found that she was trans. The case led Rise to question how many other times possible murder victims have been misgendered, especially cases where the person’s gender identity may have been a factor in their killings.
“How many other people are out there like that — unidentified — that could have been trans, but you never know it because they can’t speak for themselves anymore? So, it really started making me think about all the people that have gone missing and unidentified that no one ever noticed or cared about it,” Rise told the station.
Rise said he wants to make sure those who are identified are identified by the name and gender they had gone by before their death. “Trans people, they fight hard for their identities and their names. So it’s the least I could hope is to give that back to them in hopes that they can be respected in death,” Rise told KUSA.
He made a Facebook page called Missing and Unidentified LGBT Individuals. It’s gotten more than 1,000 likes.
The cases he finds range from still under investigation to decades-old cold cases.
“There is such a lack of representation, especially with queer, Black and brown people,” Rise explained. “People really don’t care. They don’t listen when they go missing, or they end up unidentified and no one knows who they are. No one really cares, and it is such an injustice. So, if I could do whatever I can and just put my articles out there and just get people to read and talk about it, then I’m doing my job.”