My Name Was January

When a trans sister, January Marie Lapuz, is brutally murdered in her own home, her community reacts and her friends and other trans women of colour come to share and voice their issues, concerns and challenges.

Creative team

Directors: Elina Gress, Lenée Son
Producers: Alex Sangha, Ash Brar

Filmmakers’ statements

I didn’t know January and I never heard about her murder. This made me cringe. Why was January murdered? Why did I not hear of this? Why was her murder not covered as strongly as other news items?

These are all concerns I had when Lenée and I were approached to do this film. This is why I am doing this. January was a person; a human being. Her life was just as valuable as yours and mine.

The purpose of this film is not to generate fame or profit, but to educate our population about transgender rights and lives. There is no script, just real people. This film is a platform for trans* women of colour to share their voices in a safe environment. The lives of trans* women of colour are important and that’s something I want to make clear in this film. This is for January.

– Elina Gress

Her name was January. She was loved by her friends and family. She was fearless and compassionate. When I interviewed people who knew her, they described her as a “bright light” whose energy and personality radiated in a crowded room.

At just 26 years old, she was lost too soon. I wanted to tell January’s story because I was saddened to learn of the loss of another transgender woman at the hands of gender violence. Trans women are being murdered at an unprecedented rate. For racialized trans girls living in poverty like January, transphobic violence is also inherently connected to race, gender and class.

As an immigrant from the Philippines, a sex worker and trans girl, January navigated through these multiple structures of oppression. My Name Was January is a memorial of January’s life and light. It is a call for justice for January and for all our sisters who have lost their lives to transmisogyny. It is a refusal to lose another sister to gender violence.

– Lenée Son

About Elina Gress and Lenée Son

Elina Gress and Lenée Son

Elina Gress is a freelance multimedia journalist, primarily photojournalist, in the search for a greater understanding of our world.

She has a deep interest in the complexities of the human population, telling people’s stories from their perspective and not her own, and telling stories that can change people’s hearts and minds through photography and documentary.

That said, Elina has a passion for wildlife conservation and preservation, with the determination to protect our one and only home, Earth.

Lenée Son is a Khmer Krom settler who grew up in Surrey on unceded Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo and Kwikwetlem territories.

She has a bachelors degree in journalism and minor in sociology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her work as a freelance multimedia journalist has appeared in publications such as Rabble, Multimedia Photojournale, The Volcano, Westcoast Food and Inside Vancouver.

When she’s not working on multimedia projects, Lenée is committed to anti-poverty community organizing in Surrey and Vancouver’s downtown east side.

Leave a comment