Connect with us

National

Autopsy: Trans Honduran woman who died in ICE custody was beaten

Earlier ICE said Hernández died from cardiac arrest

Published

on

An LGBTI advocacy group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, honors Roxsana Hernández, a transgender woman with HIV who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody on May 25, 2018. Autopsy results indicate Hernández was beaten before her death. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Transgender Law Center on Monday released the results of an autopsy that shows a transgender Honduran woman with HIV was beaten before she died while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

Roxsana Hernández, who was from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, was among a group of trans women who were part of a 300-person caravan that traveled to the U.S. border earlier this year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection took Hernández into custody on May 9 when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego. She entered ICE custody four days later and was being housed in a unit for trans detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, N.M., before she died at a hospital on May 25.

ICE in a press release notes Hernández was hospitalized with “symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV” on May 17. ICE also said Hernández died from cardiac arrest.

The Transgender Law Center, which on Monday announced it plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico with R. Andrew Free, a Nashville-based immigration lawyer, provided the Washington Blade with a copy of a second autopsy report that former Georgia Chief Medical Examiner Kris Sperry performed the second autopsy in Albuquerque, N.M., on June 8.

The report notes the second autopsy “disclosed evidence of physical abuse” that includes “deep bruising” on Hernández’s rib cage and “deep contusions extending onto the back.”

“The wrists also exhibited extensive regions of deep soft tissue and musculature hemorrhage, again not externally visible, which are typical of handcuff injuries,” reads the report.

The report also concludes the cause of death was “most probably severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection, with the probable presence of one or more opportunistic infections.”

“As the consequence of her immunocompromised condition, Ms. Hernández Rodriguez was susceptible to the physiologic effects of untreated dehydration, initiated by severe diarrhea and vomiting,” reads the report.

“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernandez Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill.”

Transgender Legal Clinic Litigation Director Lynly Egyes on Monday said Hernández’s “death was entirely preventable.”

The press release the Transgender Legal Clinic released included a statement from Hernández’s sisters on whose behalf the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement are also advocating.

“Roxsana Hernández was our sister and it was an injustice to have her die the way she did,” they said. “They cut her life short and she was not able to fulfill her dreams. For us, her closest family, it’s been extremely painful to deal with.”

Border Patrol has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the autopsy report or the planned wrongful death lawsuit.

Hernández left Honduras ‘with hopes of living a better life’

Violence based on gender identity remain pervasive in Honduras, which has one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates. Activists in the Central American country with whom the Blade has spoken have said discrimination and poverty are among the myriad factors that prompt many trans Hondurans and other members of the LGBTI community to migrate to the U.S.

President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has included the separation of migrant children from their parents once they entered the U.S., continues to spark outrage in the U.S. and around the world.

Thousands of migrants from Central America who hope to seek asylum in the U.S. arrived in the Mexican city of Tijuana earlier this month.

A group of LGBTI migrants who hope to seek asylum in the U.S. arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 11, 2018. (Photo by Yariel Váldes González/Tremenda Nota)

The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” A federal judge in San Francisco last week blocked the Trump administration from implementing a Nov. 9 executive order that sought to prevent migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they enter the country illegally from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents on Sunday used tear gas and rubber bullets against hundreds of migrants who rushed the U.S. border in Tijuana. Trump on Monday threatened to “permanently” close the border if the Mexican government does not deport migrants back to their countries of origin.

Hernández’s sisters in the Transgender Law Center press release said she left Honduras “with dreams of opening a beauty salon and hopes of helping us out.” They added Hernández fled the country “because here transgender people are discriminated against.”

“She left with hopes of living a better life,” said Hernández’s sisters. “It has not been easy for us to accept that she is gone, we were very close. It’s difficult to accept that she was taken from us because of negligence, because of not giving her support and medication that she needed, because they treated her like an animal. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that she fled Honduras looking for a better life and instead she was killed. Now all we have left with is the hope that we can see justice for her.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

The White House

Los Angeles to host Summit of the Americas in June

The U.S. will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in LA in June 2022 focused on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, & Equitable Future”

Published

on

President Joe Biden (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – The White House announced Tuesday that Los Angeles has been chosen by the Biden administration to host this year’s Summit of the Americas, the institutionalized gatherings of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere.

The Summit of the Americas is where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas.

The United States will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June 2022 with a focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the Western hemisphere.

The vital national interests of the United States are inextricably bound to the fortunes of our closest neighbors in the Americas. To that end, the ability of our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we deliver depends in no small part on what we do, together, to make it better,” President Biden said in his statement.

“The Summit of the Americas is the only hemisphere-wide convening of leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. U.S. leadership in the Summit process underscores our deep and historical commitment to the people of the Western Hemisphere as well as our commitment to realizing the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative,” the statement said.

“Working with the city of Los Angeles, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, the United States looks forward to convening leaders and stakeholders across the hemisphere to advance our shared commitment to economic prosperity, security, human rights, and dignity,” the statement added.

U.S. officials hope will help mend diplomatic fences in the Western Hemisphere, officials familiar with the decision told the Los Angeles Times.

The administration is expected to cite the city’s “deep and robust” ties throughout the hemisphere as one of the reasons it was selected, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the formal announcement.

Continue Reading

Ohio

Marriage equality plaintiff Obergefell running for Ohio state legislature

Obergefell was the plaintiff seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide

Published

on

Jim Obergefell (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

SANDUSKY, Oh. – Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

Continue Reading

Arizona

Arizona lawmakers and activists push back against anti-LGBTQ bills

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. In 2020 lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Ducey’s desk- he vetoed it

Published

on

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs hung Trans & LGBTQ+ Pride flags on the balcony of the historic state Capitol building on Friday, June 28, 2019. Courtesy of Arizona Secretary of State’s Office

PHOENIX – Political leaders and activists in Arizona are sounding the alarm bells over nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in the state legislature. 

The discriminatory bills – totaling nine to date, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – mirror much of the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced last year around the country, in what was a record year for legislation attacking the LGBTQ community, particularly trans people. 

Three of the bills – Senate Bill 1130, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors, Senate Bill 1165, an anti-trans sports bill, and House Bill 2112, which could prohibit the teaching of racism and sex discrimination – are set for committee meetings this week. 

Senate Bill 1130 was introduced by Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who, as the Blade reported last year, is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and a member of the far-right anti-government militia organization Oath Keepers.

Other bills would limit gender markers on official documentation to only “male” and “female,” make educators only use incorrect pronouns for students if it differs from their birth certificate and force students to get written permission to join clubs involving gender identity or sexuality. 

“This is an attack on human rights,” said Arizona state Rep. César Chávez, chairman of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, at a press conference hosted by the HRC. “We’re criminalizing individuals for being who they are. On top of that, we’re criminalizing doctors and health care workers, individuals that are doing their job.”

Sponsors of these bills say that they will benefit their communities and protect women and children. However, Chávez accused the Republican party of wanting to “attack our youth and those individuals who identify as LGBT+.” 

Lizette Trujillo, a parent of a trans child in Tucson, Arizona, detailed the toll that the proposed legislation takes on her son and her family. 

“Legislators in our state are wielding their power to leverage the most vulnerable youth in our state to further their political careers,” she said, adding: “This causes irreparable harm on the transgender community.” 

She also had an urgent message for members of her community: “Help us stop power-hungry legislators in this blatant attack,” she said. “Help us stop our government from using parents like me and kids like mine as their political pawns. Transgender kids exist – protect them, believe them, support them and affirm them.

Trujillo, who is also a member of the HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council, has become accustomed to the fight for her son’s rights. In 2019, the HRC featured her for “leading the charge” for LGBTQ-inclusive education within the Tucson Unified School District. 

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. Last year, state lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. But he ended up vetoing the bill, calling it “broad and overly vague.” 

Now, pro-LGBTQ lawmakers and activists in the state are readying to push back against such legislation. 

According to Bridget Sharpe of HRC Arizona, the group plans to show up to the statehouse and testify against the anti-LGBTQ legislation. She said that is the best way to get results. They will make their first appearance Thursday, where Trujillo will be a speaker. 

Chávez wants to have conversations with his colleagues across the aisle, noting that it has “become a rarity here in the Arizona State Legislature,” but that they are “very meaningful.”

“I will say that it’s going to take political will from my Republican colleagues to be able to vote against these bills,” he said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular