Edin Carey Avendano-Hernandez, a transgender immigrant from Mexico who has identified as a woman for the past decade, has been granted relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) after petitioning the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Avendano-Hernandez also petitioned for withholding of removal, but was denied the petition because of a previous conviction for driving under the influence and causing bodily harm to another person.
The BIA originally also denied the petition for relief under CAT because of the conviction, but the Ninth Circuit panel ruled that the Board was wrong in this case because it “failed to recognize the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation”, as well as assuming that recent anti-discrimination laws put into effect in Mexico (Avendano-Hernandez’s home country) have made life safer for transgender individuals despite evidence to the contrary.
Transgender people in Mexico continue to face discrimination and violence based solely on their identity, including being barred from employment, financial insecurity and exclusion by family members who refuse to accept them. Avendano-Hernandez is no exception to discrimination. She says she knew she was different from a very young age and her family mistreated her – calling her names and physically abusing her – when they realized she didn’t want to act like a boy. This abuse continued and worsened as she got older, not only perpetrated by her family members but also classmates, clients at a nightclub she started work at, and members of the Mexican police and military.