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Coloradan raising awareness for missing LGBTQ people

Lazarus Rise from Colorado Springs is hoping his work can help solve crimes or provide closure to victims' families.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — An advocate from Colorado Springs is highlighting the cases of missing LGBTQ people, after noticing they often go unseen.

A transgender queer man himself, Lazarus Rise was prompted to start highlighting cases after he began studying criminal justice and forensics. He couldn't finish his degree, but wanted to put the knowledge he had to use. 

One case sparked his interest in advocacy work -- an unidentified transgender woman who has been called Julie Doe. She is believed to have been murdered in Florida in 1988. She was believed to be a cisgender woman until DNA testing in 2015, leading Rise to wonder just how many other people are misgendered to the detriment of solving the case. 

"How many other people are out there like that -- unidentified -- that could have been trans, but you never know it because they can’t speak for themselves anymore? So, it really started making me think about all the people that have gone missing and unidentified that no one ever noticed or cared about it," Rise said. 

He began a Facebook page called Missing and Unidentified LGBT Individuals that has amassed more than 700 likes. 

"There is such a lack of representation, especially with queer, Black and brown people," Rise said. "People really don’t care. They don’t listen when they go missing, or they end up unidentified and no one knows who they are. No one really cares, and it is such an injustice. So if I could do whatever I can and just put my articles out there and just get people to read and talk about it, then I’m doing my job."

He wants to highlight cases that often go unseen, but also wants to ensure that those who are missing or unidentified are identified by the gender and names they have gone by prior to their disappearance or death. 

"Trans people, they fight hard for their identities and their names. So it’s the least I could hope is to give that back to them in hopes that they can be respected in death," Rise said. 

Cases range from decades old to recent cases that investigators still consider active. 

Rise hopes his work can help bring justice to those awaiting closure or help spread the word to people who may be able to solve these types of cases.

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