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10 Trans Members of Migrant Caravan Granted Asylum

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The Central American trans women expressed relief and gratitude after being allowed to stay in the United States.

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Ten transgender women, part of the Central American caravan of migrants seeking American refuge late last year, have been granted asylum in the U.S., reports CBS News.

"I wanted to change things but that made me more of a target," Honduran migrant Estrellita told CBS News via email. "I was assaulted and threatened by those who didn't agree with me and hated trans people. I love my country and wouldn't have left but for the persecution I suffered. But I thought the U.S. would be pretty and the people would be nice and that has turned out to be true."

(Related: The Motley Crew Fighting for LGBTQ Migrants)

Estrellita was of about 80 LGBTQ migrants who separated from the full group of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in their home nations; the queer migrants said they were discriminated against by others in the caravan. Things didn't get much easier when the LGBTQ group reached the border.

Thirty of the LGBTQ asylum-seekers were housed at the South Texas Detention Center, a facility with no experience with transgender detainees. Estrellita described discrimination and slurs directed at her and the other women.

"Although I do believe South Texas Detention Center is trying its best given a new situation, there are definitely some ways that STDC can improve their care," immigrant rights lawyer Christian Sanchez told CBS News.

The remaining migrants detained at the South Texas Detention Center are still awaiting court dates or have already been denied asylum. Only 35 percent of asylum cases last year were approved by U.S. immigration officials.

Estrellita knows she's one of the lucky ones; she plans on opening a women's shelter once she's settled in America. Watch Estrellita speak about her new life below.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.