skip to main content

Friends Remember Meraxes Medina, the Trans Woman Killed in South LA

Meraxes Medina collage

Meraxes Medina was still finding herself, but she was well on her way to becoming the woman she was meant to be. Shortly before her 24th birthday this February, she had just started hormone replacement therapy after years of waiting. Medina was undocumented and experienced periods of homelessness, often jumping from cheap motel to cheap motel. But everyone around her knew that she was destined for great things, even if she was still figuring out what her destiny was. 

Alejandro Fernandez, who looked at Medina like a daughter, estimated that he “helped her move seven to 10 times” in the eight years they’d known one another. The day after they first met, he picked up her things after she was kicked out of her childhood home, and they held each other as they cried.

“She left an impression on everybody,” Fernandez says. “She was someone you weren’t going to forget. She had this aura about her, and everywhere we went, people would turn around. She had so much potential. I was waiting for her to be an influencer and blow up. I would tell her, ‘Girl, I’m waiting for your moment because you’re already the bomb.’”

But Fernandez will never get the opportunity to see the person that Medina would have blossomed into: She was shot and killed in South Los Angeles on March 20, making her one of at least six trans people to lose their lives to violence in 2024. The majority were trans people of color like Medina, who was of Latine heritage. She was discovered in the street across from Bill & Vi Cozy Corner, a sports bar at the corner of 59th and South Hoover Street. Surveillance footage reportedly shows a light-colored sedan speeding off after its driver abandoned her body. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

She left an impression on everybody. She was someone you weren’t going to forget.

Alejandro Fernandez, friend

A candlelight vigil honoring Medina’s life is currently being planned by her close friends. Alisha Veneno, who organized a GoFundMe to raise money for the memorial, first met Medina when they were both 16. Initially, she thought they wouldn’t like each other. “I’m a cancer,” she recalls. “I’m very skeptical of people. She seemed like she had an attitude, but then I realized, ‘She reminds me of me.’” They quickly bonded over disappointing boys and messy romances, and soon she couldn’t conceive of a life without Medina in it.

“She was very straight up,” she says. “She was very honest when it came to her intentions. We’re both heavy hitters. We both have strong personalities when people first meet us. I understood her. She understood me. The trust that was built with her is what solidified our friendship.”

Veneno says she knew something had happened because Medina hadn’t been very active on Instagram the day of her death. Medina once told her, “If I don’t post to my stories for four hours, something isn’t right,” and Veneno took her friend at her word. She grew even more nervous when she saw the location had been deactivated on Medina’s phone. Veneno searched the internet for news bulletins about local car accidents but couldn’t find anything. When Medina’s sister and a cousin confirmed the news, she refused to believe it until she called the hospital herself.

We were just trying to make it in life. We didn’t know what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go, but we wanted to go somewhere.

Alisha Veneno, friend

The sudden loss has left Veneno struggling with questions that are, as of now, unanswered: What happened? Where did it go wrong? She has heard Medina’s voice speaking to her as she goes about her day, and she has been trying to hold in her heart the person that her friend was: a steadfast go-getter who loved fantasizing about luxury cars, spending countless hours roaming the aisles of Sephora, and going to Starbucks every single day. Veneno says that Medina inspired her to be bolder and freer and to aspire to her best self. Although the world is often unkind to trans people, she would go out in a full face of makeup and dare people to say something about it.

“Meraxes pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I loved that about her,” she says. “We were just trying to survive. We were just trying to make it in life. We didn’t know what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go, but we wanted to go somewhere.”

As authorities continue to investigate Medina’s death, those who loved her say they will always be inspired by how exquisitely unapologetic she was. Bambina Alacran, a longtime friend, met her in high school after Medina transferred from another campus. Although shy in her new environment at first, Medina’s makeup skills quickly attracted admirers at school—as well as increasingly passionate detractors. Female classmates turned on Medina and began bullying her after she began drawing attention from boys, Alacran says. She compares Medina’s allure to the sun: “You look at it, and it’s so bright and beautiful. But if you get too close, you might get burnt.”

While those experiences taught Medina from a young age that she had to develop a thick skin to survive, Alacran maintains that trans girls shouldn’t have to fight so hard just to exist as themselves. She is still in denial that her friend is gone and that they won’t be fighting together anymore. “I felt like I wasn’t alone, that there was someone else who understood,” she says. “Having her, it felt us against the world. It sucks that she can’t grow old or experience more life.”

Action Name