LATINO VOICES

Transgender Latinas Find A Refuge In Queens

New York, UNITED STATES:  Raynell Valencia waves a gay pride and a Puerto Rican flag as he watches the 36th annual Lesbian, G
New York, UNITED STATES: Raynell Valencia waves a gay pride and a Puerto Rican flag as he watches the 36th annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride March in New York 25 June 2006. Thousands of marchers from New York's homosexual community took part in the city's annual Gay Pride parade, although high spirit were dampened slightly by recent conservative efforts to reverse political gains by US gays and lesbians. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas ROBERTS (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP/Getty Images)

Two years ago, smugglers buried a woman named Joselyn in Matamoros, a Mexican border city that attracts immigrants waiting to cross into the United States. Several men encased her body in dirt, covered her face with leaves and told her to wait until Border Patrol agents had disappeared to dig herself out.

For Joselyn, who is transgender, the process of being buried alive was nothing new. Growing up in Guatemala, she had suffocated beneath a barrage of insults and physical attacks from her family, her neighbors and her peers, she said. And with Mexican gangs moving south, violence against gays and transgender people was becoming more frequent. So at 19, Joselyn set off on an 18-day journey to the United States and eventually made it to New York City.

Read more on The New York Times

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