My Name Was January

When a trans sister, January Marie Lapuz, is brutally murdered in

her own home, a community reacts and her friends and other trans women of colour come to share and voice their issues, concerns, and challenges. January was seen as a bright light in the lives of many. This is the story of January, a friend, a daughter, a person. This film will not only bring justice to January, but to all the women who have lost their lives. January had a beautiful soul, and now part of her soul rests in each and every one of us.



Director Biography - Elina Gress, Lenee Son

Photo: Lenee Son (left) and Elina Gress (right)


Elina 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. We live in a fast-paced world and we rarely take the time to communicate with each other in a deep and meaningful way. Elina also has a passion for wildlife conservation and preservation; not to mention the determination to protecting our one and only home, Earth.


Lenée is a freelance multimedia journalist and has contributed to publications such as, Multimedia Photojournale, Inside Vancouver, and Westcoast Food. Especially as a second generation survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide, Lenée is passionate about promoting and supporting human rights through her work. She is most interested in exploring under-reported social, environmental, economic, and political issues within her community as well as around the world. When she is not storytelling, Lenée works with the Carnegie Community Action Project as the Administrator & Community Organizer in Vancouver.


Director Statement

ELINA - 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.


LENEE - January Marie Lapuz was a transgender woman of colour who was murdered in 2012 in New Westminster, British Columbia. Transgender women of colour are being murdered at an unprecedented rate. Not only do transgender women of colour face transphobia, they are subjected to other forms of discrimination such as racism and misogyny, which impacts their overall health, safety, well-being, income, and level of education. My Name Was January is a celebration of January Marie Lapuz and all our trans sisters. My Name Was January is a call for action to address the issues that impacted January's life among other transgender women of colour. My Name Was January is a platform for transgender women of colour to have their voice heard, to bring awareness to trans issues, support trans narratives, and eradicate transphobia.



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