On Feb. 27, Bad Bunny appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and made a powerful statement while promoting his new single “Ignorantes.” The Puerto Rican rapper and singer wore a skirt and a T-shirt with the words “Mataron A Alexa, No A Un Hombre Con Falda,” translating to: “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt.”
Bad Bunny’s T-shirt refers to Neulisa Alexa Luciano Ruiz, a homeless transgender woman who was brutally killed in Tao Baja, Puerto Rico on Feb. 17, making her the latest example in a long history of violence against gay and transgender people in the country.
The murder occurred a couple of hours after someone called the police to report that Luciano used the women’s bathroom in a fast-food restaurant, claiming that she used a mirror to look into other people’s stalls. Once the police got to the restaurant, they found no evidence that Luciano had a mirror on her person and no charges were filed.
Still, details about the incident had spread across social media, resulting in an uproar of ignorant transphobic messages online. Several photos of the police approaching Luciano in the restaurant and a video of a people harassing and threatening someone who resembled Luciano also circulated online as well.
Following the murder, Puerto Rican LGBTQ+ activist Pedro Julio Serrano demanded that authorities investigate Luciano’s murder as a hate crime motivated by intolerance. The Human Rights Campaign issued out an official statement on Luciano’s murder: “She had dreams, hopes, hobbies and did not deserve to have her life taken from her. HRC has heard that Luciano was experiencing homelessness, further highlighting the ways a toxic mix of transphobia and misogyny conspire to put the transgender community at risk of extreme violence.”
The statement on Bad Bunny’s T-shirt, “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt,” touches on the heightened misogyny and transphobia permeating a lot of the news coverage about Luciano’s death. Allegedly, the woman who initially called the police reported Luciano as “a man who was dressed as a female,” and several Puerto Rican news outlets also incorrectly referred to Luciano as “a man,” “a cross-dressing man” or “a man in a skirt.”
“#SeLlamabaAlexa” or “her name was Alexa” was trending on Twitter with several people demanding justice for Luciano, advocating for the basic human right of using her correct identity in her ongoing legacy. Bad Bunny’s shirt echoes this online advocacy, referring to Luciano by her name.
Bad Bunny’s appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” follows a pattern of his social awareness and activism. On his very first appearance on the show back in September 2018, Bad Bunny opened his set with footage of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, later saying, “More than 3,000 people have died and Trump’s still in denial. ” In the summer of 2019, the Puerto Rican rapper rescheduled some of his tour so that he could participate in the San Juan protests against Governor Ricardo Rossello.
On his most recent “Fallon” appearance, Bad Bunny shows his patriotism for his country once again by pushing it to be better and bringing a beautiful tribute to a member of the Puerto Rican LGBTQ+ community. The performance on American national television currently has over 2 million views on YouTube, putting Luciano’s proper identity at perhaps the forefront of her media coverage.
Along with bringing justice to Luciano, Bad Bunny’s appearance sends other messages of sociocultural importance. “They killed Alexa, not a man in a skirt,” his shirt reads, as he stands before the world in a skirt, symbolically demonstrating the difference between himself and Luciano, the difference between a man in a skirt and a transgender woman.
Luciano’s murder was a hate crime not only targeting her, but inadvertently sending a threatening message to the whole LGBTQ+ community. Bravely, in the wake of that homophobia and transphobia, Bad Bunny stood in solidarity in a skirt in front of a wide-spanning audience, respectfully showing his advocacy and allyship.