Mendoza: Daniele Volpe—The New York Times/Redux; Spellmant: Natalie Keyssar—The New York Times/Redux

In countries throughout Latin America, transgender people are left with an impossible choice: stay and risk being killed, or leave everything behind. Vicky Hernández chose to stay, and paid for that decision with her life. Her murder during the 2009 Honduran coup d’état came to symbolize the pervasive structural violence that trans women continue to face to this day.

Indyra Mendoza and Claudia Spellmant, as activists and LGBTQ+ women themselves, spent years working to demand justice for Vicky, bravely pushing back against a discriminatory society that has repeatedly put their lives at risk. Our legal team at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights joined them in this pursuit of justice.

The Inter-American Court, the region’s highest authority on human rights, heard their cries loud and clear. In a landmark decision issued this June, it not only held the state of Honduras responsible for Vicky’s death but also issued new protections for LGBTQ+ people across Latin America.

Indyra and Claudia understand well the fight isn’t over, and have pledged to keep pushing for the rights of their communities. The world must follow their lead.

Kennedy is president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

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