Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo was the first openly nonbinary person to serve as a judge in México, where they served as a maestre (the legally recognized nonbinary word for magistrate en español) in the Aguascalientes state electoral court since October 1, 2022. They made Latin American history by being the first openly non-binary maestre across latinoámerica–and they were out and proud. Their social media accounts illuminate the love and power for LGBTQ+ communities, and their advocacy for the rights and visibility of LGBTQ+ communities entre México cannot be understated.
Baena Saucedo was the first person to obtain a nonbinary birth certificate in Coahuila, México, receive a nonbinary gender Mexican passport, and have the gender-neutral term for magistrate designated to their post as judge. Their advocacy and determination created a path for others to have the same recognition and rights by having the option to select the gender-neutral marker X on identification documents in addition to H and M for male and female.
Baena stressed that the LGBTIQ+ community should be allowed to be safe and have power at critical decision-making tables. Throughout their career, they advanced active civic engagement from the LGTBIQ+ community in the politics of México. Baena Saucedo advocated for access to inclusive bathrooms and issued guidance for including LGTBIQ+ people in the courtroom. In an October 2022 interview on CNN, they said, “In the upper echelons of power, which are generally men […] Visibility allows us to normalize our presence; We want nothing more than to normalize our presence in public and private spaces.”
México is the country with the second most hate crimes in Latin America, where 305 acts of violence against LGBTIQ+ people have been documented between 2019 and 2022, according to the National Observatory of Hate Crimes Against LGBTI+ Persons in Mexico. After more than a year of threats to Baena Saucedo’s life (happening with more frequency as their prominence grew as a leading LGBTQI+ advocate), they and their partner Dorian Herrera were found dead in their home on November 13, 2023. The Associated Press recently reported controversy and corruption surrounding the facts about the death. The LGBTQ+ rights group, Letra S, in a press statement calls on the Aguascalientes Prosecutor’s office to pursue a thorough investigation of the incident to determine if the tragic deaths of Baena Saucedo and Herrera were a hate crime.
Baena Saucedo’s death is one of too many recent acts of violence against LGBTQIA+ Latin American activists and leaders. We remember the murder of Manuel (Manny) “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Terán, a queer, non-binary, and Indigenous Venezuelan of Timoto-Cuica descent who was killed by Georgia state police while defending the Weelaunee forest from desecration in Atlanta. Across Latin America, Indigenous, queer, femme, and women land and water protectors are disproportionately killed, murdered, and incarcerated for their activism, regardless of the strategies they engage in.
GreenLatinos joins our communities in remembering Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo’s bravery and honoring their lucha for LGBTQI+ communities worldwide. Baena Saucedo’s courage to live authentically and pridefully as a leader will continue to inspire our fight for environmental liberation. The fight for liberación ambiental is a fight for justice.
Green Latinos is an active comunidad of Latino/a/x leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.
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