Mexico’s First Openly Non-Binary Magistrate, Who Was Prominent LGBTQ Activist, Found Dead at Home

Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo made history in last year when they were the first non-binary person to assume the role as magistrate in a central Mexican city

<p>Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram</p> Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo

Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram

Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo

Mexico’s first openly non-binary electoral magistrate and prominent LGBTQ activist Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo was found dead at home this week, according to multiple news reports citing local officials.

The bodies of 39-year-old Baena Saucedo and their presumed partner were found Monday morning at their home in the central city of Aguascalientes, which is located about 300 miles northwest of Mexico City, the state prosecutor’s office confirmed to CNN, NBC News, and Mexico News Daily.

According to NBC News, state prosecutor Jesús Figueroa Ortega said at a press conference that both of the deceased had wounds believed to be caused by a knife or another sharp object.

<p>Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram</p>

Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram

However, Mexican officials told CNN that the causes of death were unknown and foul play is not suspected at this time. Authorities said they have already ruled out the presence of a possible third person in the home. Officials added that one of the victims held a “cutting instrument,” according to CNN, yet the deaths are not considered a crime.

Mexico Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said in a press conference that it is unclear if “it was a homicide or an accident,” per NBC News.

Baena Saucedo made history in October 2022 when they were the first non-binary person to assume the role as magistrate for the Aguascalientes state electoral court, CNN reports. Earlier this year, they were also one of the first in the country to receive a gender-neutral passport, according to the outlet.

<p>Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram</p> Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo

Jesus Ociel Baena/Instagram

Jesus Ociel Baena Saucedo

“I want to send the message that the LGBTQ population can access these spaces, that there is a possibility that we have people with enough of a profile that with their own merits can access these spaces where decisions are made,” Baena Saucedo told CNN last year.

Shortly before their death, Baena Saucedo was recognized by the electoral court as “maestre,” a gender-neutral alternative to the masculine “magistrado” and feminine “magistrada” in Spanish, NBC News reports.

Baena Saucedo was open about their identity and advocacy on social media and often posed in photos with a rainbow-colored fan.

“I am a nonbinary person, I am not interested in being seen as either a woman or a man. This is an identity. It is mine, for me, and nobody else” Baena Saucedo wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter) in June.

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According to the Associated Press, thousands of LGBTQ activists took to the streets this week in Mexico City, demanding a thorough investigation by authorities.

“They were a person who received many hate messages, and even threats of violence and death, and you can’t ignore that in these investigations,” Alejandro Brito, director of the LGBTQ rights group Letra S., told the AP.

“They, the magistrate, was breaking through the invisible barriers that closed in the nonbinary community.”

While same-sex marriage was made legal across all 32 states of Mexico in 2022, anti-LGBTQ violence is still prevelant. According to the AP, which cites the National Observatory of Hate Crimes Against LGBTI+ Persons in Mexico, the organization reported 305 violent hate crimes against "sexual minorities" from 2019 to 2022.

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