The Story Behind Trans Woman Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, Who Died At the Hands of ICE

roxsana hernandez

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez was 33 years old when she died 6 months ago. She was abused, dehydrated, beaten, and neglected, and all while in the care of ICE.

Roxy was one of the thousands of migrants who came to the U.S seeking asylum, hoping to escape the harsh conditions of their home countries.

For Roxy, getting asylum was a matter of life or death. As a trans woman, she faced severe discrimination in her home country. She told Buzzfeed that she was harassed by MS-13 gang members before they gang-raped her. She said,

“Four of them raped me and as a result I got HIV.”

She added that they screamed at her, “We don’t want you in this neighborhood, you fucking faggot.”

Roxy explained that she felt like she had no choice but to leave Honduras.

“Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags… I didn’t want to come to Mexico. I wanted to stay in Honduras but I couldn’t. They kill trans people in Honduras. I’m scared of that.”

According to her friends and family, she hoped to come to the U.S to open her own beauty salon and “live a better life.”

trans woman ICE
Photo: Instagram

Of course, her dreams never came to fruition as she died in the custody of ICE.

According to her autopsy report, she had severe bruising on her wrists consistent with handcuff markings, bruises on her body that indicate she was beaten with a blunt object like a baton, severe dehydration, and vomiting and diarrhea. Despite all of this, she was not given medical attention until it was too late.

The Transgender Law Center is currently suing for wrongful death on behalf of Roxy’s family and called her death “entirely preventable.”

The medical examiner who examined Roxy wrote in the autopsy report,

“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernandez Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill.”

An ICE spokesperson responded to the allegations with the following statement:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cannot speak to the validity of the private autopsy cited by The Daily Beast; however, allegations that she was abused in ICE custody are false.”

They added that ICE medical professions claimed that she suffered complications from untreated HIV.

There is no question that Roxy suffered abuse and neglect while in the custody of ICE. Autopsy results do not lie. And whether or not ICE officials were the ones to beat Roxy (although it doesn’t look good for them), they were still responsible for her care.

ICE chose to detain those seeking asylum. They chose to take on this responsibility. Roxy left her home to escape death and, in a horrible case of irony, died in the country that was supposed to protect her.

The way we treat immigrants and refugees is not ok. We separate them from their families, we detain them like criminals, and we neglect their care. And yet, ICE wants to avoid any type of responsibility.

We hear about these abuses on a daily basis, but because they seem to occur in another world, we go on in our daily lives as if nothing happened. We tweet a few angry tweets and then we move on.

But our actions speak louder than words. It is us who are allowing this to happen. We are showing the GOP and Trump that this type of behavior is acceptable. Roxy’s death is on all of our hands.

I recently read a quote which said,

“A dangerous idea is one where we assume the worst things in history have already happened.”

If we don’t do something, really do something, things will only get worse. A lot worse.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.