Court Cites UN Torture Convention to Protect Transgender Immigrants in the US

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that immigration courts must distinguish between sexual orientation and gender identity in immigrants seeking asylum or relief from deportation.

The court said Carey Avendaño-Hernandez, a transgender woman originally from Mexico, should be allowed to stay in the U.S. because she faced grave physical threats in her home country distinct from the risks experienced by gays and lesbians.

Immigration and transgender activists are cheering the decision, as well as a new ICE policy of segregating trans detainees based on their gender identity. FSRN’s Larry Buhl has more from Los Angeles.

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Carey Avenda̱o-Hernandez unlawfully entered the U.S. in 2000 and settled in Fresno, California. She began hormone therapy five years later and has lived as a woman ever since. In 2006, she was arrested and convicted of felony drunk driving. After serving a year in jail Рwhere she was housed with male inmates Рshe was deported to Mexico.

She reentered the U.S. in 2008 and was again arrested. This time, she sought relief from deportation under the U.N. Convention Against Torture. She argued that her appearance and transgender identity put her at high risk of physical and sexual violence in Mexico.

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