Gay and transgender migrants face staggering violence in mexico

The Atlantic
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July 22, 2013
Issues: 

Tapachula, Mexico -- Julio Campo kept to himself during his three-night stay last month in a resting house for migrants, but a few cold, lingering stares made him uneasy.

"I felt like a joke, like I was immediately disliked," explained Campo, 30, a migrant from El Salvador who is gay. "It was just very uncomfortable and I wanted to get out quickly."

The fear that Campo felt in the migrant shelter is manifesting into a unique challenge for church officials who run Mexico's scattered, free stopovers for migrants. Faced with increasingly higher numbers of arriving gay male and transgender female migrants, some shelters are starting to separately house people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

"We're seeing more and more transgender migrants and it's difficult for the migrant houses because they don't know where to place them," said Leticia Gutierrez Valderrama, executive secretary of the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, a humanitarian branch of the Catholic Church that runs 66 migrant shelters. "The women say 'No, he is a man, I don't want him here,' and the men say, 'We don't want to be staying with a woman.'"