They Were Going To Cut Off Her Breasts
A Call For Empathy
President Trump spoke often about the refugee caravan slowly making its way through Mexico towards the US border. Americans were bombarded with his rhetoric regarding the “gang members”, the “very bad people”, and how this caravan was poised to “invade” the United States without legally applying for asylum in the US.
Note: Asylum applications can’t be made outside of the United States and it IS LEGAL to claim asylum at a port of entry along the border. Either the President doesn’t know this, or he is intentionally obfuscating the facts.
When you look at a cross-section of humanity, you should expect to find us there
His rhetoric and the stoking of ludicrous conspiracy theories regarding the caravan being funded by George Soros inspired a right-wing lunatic to shoot up the Tree of Life Synagogue, killing 11 people, including a Holocaust survivor.
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You don’t hear much about the caravan now that the midterm elections have passed. Trump no longer feels the need to rile up his base with fear of this dangerous invasion. But we need to keep talking about the caravan, and the discussion needs to be frank and honest, not political in nature. The current political landscape in America tends to strip the humanity from most national conversations. We should never be talking about people absent their humanity.
I write about threats and violence against LGBTQ people often, and specifically about violence towards transgender women. Would it surprise you to learn that there is a group of LGBTQ refugees in this caravan, including several transgender people? It shouldn’t surprise anyone. When you look at a cross-section of humanity, you should expect to find us there.
AP Photo / Rodrigo Abd
These individuals have banded together for protection during their travels. Often LGBTQ folks stick together for safety because the world isn’t a safe and welcoming place for us. In fact, these queers are fleeing because it isn’t safe for them in their home countries. They are literally running for their lives.
Note: The man in the green vest in the picture above is a human rights worker traveling with this group to ensure their safety.
“Loly Mendez, a 28-year-old who began transitioning to a woman in her native El Salvador, knows all too well the dangers her fellow transgender migrants faced back home: Her best friend, also a transgender woman, was murdered for doing the same. Then Loly herself began getting threats — ‘that if my breasts were going to grow, they would cut them off,’ she said. They were always anonymously delivered, which only made her more fearful and finally drove her to flee.”
They were going to cut off her breasts. For transgender women, many of these kinds of threats become reality and so they must be taken seriously. Loly wasn’t the only transgender woman in this caravan forced to flee her home country.
“Lady began identifying as transgender at age 5, and her father ultimately disowned her. She was subjected to insults and beatings, her boyfriend was killed and she was warned to leave Honduras or else. ‘In our country the rights of the LGBTQ community are not respected, and anti-social groups take advantage of that,’ Lady said.”
Around the world, violence against transgender women is a serious issue. Here are a handful of examples:
“Pakistani media are reporting that two suspects have been detained in Peshawar after a transgender woman was shot dead and her body mutilated. Police Superintendent Cantt Waseem Riaz told Dawn newspaper on August 17 the victim had been shot dead the night before and that her body was then hacked to pieces.”
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“The body of a transgender woman has been found mutilated and BURNT in a street in the latest of a string of gay hate crimes to rock Turkey.”
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“In Jacksonville, Florida, four Black transgender women have been shot in the last six months alone. Three of them were killed.”
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“If he wants to be a female, make him a female. A good sharp knife will do the job really quick,” said an adult of a 12-year-old transgender girl in Oklahoma.
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Across the world, LGBTQ people face persecution, threats, and actual violence at rates that far exceed the general population. The LGBTQ folks that are in this caravan together are no exception, and the road the caravan is traveling is even more perilous for them.
We should never be talking about people absent their humanity
“Fearful of being attacked more violently or sexually assaulted, they stick by each other’s sides 24 hours a day, walking and sleeping in a group and even using the buddy system for going to the bathroom.”
These people know their chances of receiving asylum are slim to nil. They know there are U.S. soldiers waiting at the border to turn them away. Yet they keep putting one foot in front of the other, hoping against hope that they will find safe harbor in the U.S.
Some people call that bravery. Is simply trying to survive brave? These people are terrified and they simply have no other options. If they are deported back to their home country, the threats against their lives will likely become a reality.
Brave or not, they will very likely die.
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