Trans women talk about dangers of living in Mexico, hopes of leaving

Yokzana Martinez Balez

Yokzana Martinez Balez (Photo by Amy Lieberman)

The plight of transgender women in Mexico and the dangers they face in trying to flee to Texas are highlighted in a story from

Several trans women talk about the lack of support of family and friends when they come out as trans, and the few job options they have of working at a bar, hair salon or on the street as a sex worker.

Conditions are harsher in Puebla, where the women interviewed live, because it’s among 22 of Mexico’s 31 states that don’t protect LGBT people against discrimination. Mexico has the second-highest murder rate of transgender people.

While some of the women have resolved their family conflicts, others still wrestle with the idea of a future beyond the Texas border. Like Yokzana Martinez Balez, who transitioned at 15. Her family reacted negatively and she was forced to leave her parents’ home in Puebla shortly after. She left high school and went north, to Sonora, where she worked as a sex worker.

Now 18, she works at a bar and also some nights as a sex worker. Even though money is tight, she knows she could make more working in the U.S.

“I’d like to go to the U.S. and spend my life there and have a family. My brothers migrated when I was young and are doing well there,” she told “But it is much harder for a trans person to migrate. I fear I will get killed if I go.”

Read about more trans women’s stories here.

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