Oakland, CA – Transgender Law Center and the Cornell Law School LGBT Clinic today released a publication, “Report on Human Rights Conditions of Transgender Women in Mexico,” demonstrating that transgender women in Mexico face pervasive discrimination, hatred, violence, police abuse, rape, torture, and murder. The report, intended to assess country conditions in Mexico to inform immigration judges and asylum officers in the U.S., found that conditions have actually worsened for transgender women since same-sex marriage became available in Mexico in 2010.
“Too often, transgender women who come to the U.S. desperately seeking safety from persecution instead find more violence and abuse in detention centers – only to ultimately be deported by immigration judges who do not understand the life-threatening dangers they face in Mexico,” said Flor Bermudez, director of Transgender Law Center’s Detention Project. “We need immigration judges to make asylum decisions based on the realities transgender women face in Mexico, and this report can be an important tool to educate them.”
While there have been some legal reforms for same-sex couples in Mexico, violence against transgender women has only intensified in recent years. As the report documents, there have been at least 120 transphobic murders, including the murders of prominent advocates in the transgender community, since the developments around same-sex marriage in Mexico in 2010.
Mexican transgender women who have fled violence and sought asylum in the U.S. welcomed the report: “I am glad that the human rights violations that we are subjected to in Mexico are being documented and reported. We are murdered, raped, assaulted, and killed, and the Mexican government doesn’t do anything to protect us or help our sisters who are still being murdered,” said Sthefany Galante, Outreach Coordinator at El/La Para TransLatinas, an organization for transgender Latinas in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The report makes several recommendations for improving immigration judges’ access to accurate information, including increasing understanding of the distinction between issues facing gay and transgender communities.
“We hope this report will assist U.S. immigration judges and asylum officers in understanding the plight of transgender women seeking asylum from Mexico,” said Susan Hazeldean, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Cornell Law School LGBT Clinic, which coauthored the report.
Olga Tomchin, Deportation Defense Coordinator & Staff Attorney at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and former Soros Justice Fellow at Transgender Law Center, added: “We are hopeful that this report will help more transgender women access the asylum and refugee law protections to which they are already legally entitled. Too many women flee horrific violence in Central America expecting protection, only to end up abused and retraumatized by the U.S. government and asylum process.”
Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. TLC works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. www.transgenderlawcenter.org
The Cornell Law School LGBT Clinic (“the Clinic”) is one of only a handful of law school clinics fighting specifically for the legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The Clinic provides free legal help to low-income LGBT individuals in a variety of cases, including immigration removal proceedings, asylum applications, appeals before the BIA, and family law, and prisoners’ rights matters. In addition to representing individuals in need of legal assistance, the Clinic undertakes advocacy projects in conjunction with other LGBT organizations to advance LGBT rights.