The woman whose body was discovered along Mulholland Highway near Malibu on Thursday is being mourned by her family and coworkers at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Day Rodas, a 27-year-old transgender woman, had only “recently started living her life authentically” after coming out to friends and family, her sister said on a GoFundMe.
“She was the most forgiving person who strongly advocated for LGBTQ rights. She had so much love for family and friends and she saw the good in everyone,” added Susie Rodas, Day’s sister, on the GoFundMe page.
Rodas, a San Fernando Valley native and UCLA graduate, worked in the Community Health Program at the L.A. LGBT Center. When she failed to show up to work and stopped responding to texts and calls from relatives, friends and family became worried.
“We at the Los Angeles LGBT Center are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Day Rodas, our colleague and friend, and express our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones,” the center tweeted.
Police believe Rodas overdosed and her body was left along the road in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains north of El Matador Beach in Malibu.
Though her exact cause of death has not yet been determined, “preliminary findings indicated there were narcotics” in Rodas’ body, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departmant said in an update Tuesday.
Her death is being investigated as a homicide, though no obvious signs of trauma were observed on her body, authorities said.
Joe Hollendoner, CEO of the L.A. LGBT Center, said while the investigation is ongoing, “to me, it’s another example of a beautiful trans life that was cut too short.”
“Day should be remembered as someone who contributed so much to her community. She was an artist, she was eclectic, she was creative and what really resonates most for me, she was living her authentic self and she served as role model to so many here at the center,” Hollendoner added.
On social media, the center echoed Hollendoner’s concerns about the circumstances of Rodas’ death.
“We cannot honor Day’s life without naming that violence against transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—is at an all-time high. We’re witnessing a rise in anti-trans rhetoric that contributes to violence against trans people, many of which go unsolved,” the center said.