Transgender Newark teen remembered 20 years after being killed by 4 men

"I promised her at her funeral that I would be her voice until people stop dying," Sylvia Guerrero asked people to remember her 17-year-old daughter who was killed by four young men.

It was a call to action held at the main library in San Francisco, a city where transgender teenager Gwen Araujo felt safe.  

"I relive this. And every day is like yesterday to me. It's not 20 years. It's a hole and a pain in my heart that nothing in this world can cure," said Guerrero.  

On October 4, 2002, Araujo, the Newark teenager was beaten at a house party when it was discovered that she was biologically male.

It was a crime that pained her mother, who spoke at a vigil after she was killed,

"It hurts me a lot. I hope through his death that maybe it will change somebody," said Guerrero.

Supporters said Araujo's death did bring change, raising awareness about violence against transgender people.   

At Tuesday's remembrance, transgender speakers included a teacher and an Alameda County Superior Court judge. 

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They said there are now more resources and help.

"We were able to pass SB 107," said State Senator Scott Wiener, the lead author of a new law that will provide refuge for trans kids and their families from states criminalizing gender-affirming healthcare.

It takes effect in January.

"We're going to do everything in our power to protect them and not send them back and not honor subpoenas," said Wiener.  

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Despite recent efforts to roll back protections for transgender people and attacks by politicians pushing for legislation harmful to the community, many said there is still hope.  

"The trans movement is stronger, that we've grown, that we're bigger and bolder that we've ever been," said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. 

Araujo's mother had a message for parents: 

"It's unconditional love that you should have for your children," said Guerrero, "I'm at peace because I know that Gwen left this world with my love."

Only one of the four men who attacked Araujo remains in state prison. 
Guerrero said none has shown true remorse and not one has reached out to her.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU