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Monday, November 08, 2004

USA: transgender Man's Case Tests U.S. Immigration Law

from LA Times:
Saying his sexual identity may put him in peril in El Salvador, Luis Reyes-Reyes seeks refuge under the Convention Against Torture.
But Reyes-Reyes, 42, is not looking for traditional political asylum. As he and his lawyers put it, he fears returning to his homeland because, for much of his life, he has lived as a woman.
Before coming to Los Angeles in 1979, Reyes-Reyes testified, he suffered intolerable cruelty in El Salvador because of his sexual identity. He was only 13, he said, when he was kidnapped, raped and beaten by a gang of men.
Whether Reyes-Reyes is allowed to remain here or not, lawyers said, the federal court's decision to return his case to the immigration board sets an important precedent that could help embolden other illegal immigrants to apply for asylum if they come from countries where gay-bashing or other abuse is tolerated or officially sanctioned.
"When it comes to transgender people, even though they are legally eligible [for asylum], as a practical matter, their chances of obtaining it are practically zero," said Shannon Minter, legal director at the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, an advocacy group.

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