Raised in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Valeria suffered tremendous abuse from the time she was a young child. By the time she was eight, her parents realized that Valeria was different from her nine siblings because of her gender identity. Years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse followed. And at the age of thirteen, Valeria’s parents kicked her out of the house.
In 1985, at age eighteen, Valeria came to the United States, where she received a scholarship to attend beauty school and became a successful hair stylist. Proud of her achievements, she returned to Cuernavaca, hoping to win the approval of her family. Unfortunately, her family did not accept her. Despite this, she remained in Mexico, until she suffered a brutal assault. In 1994, Valeria was attacked, mutilated, and left to bleed to death. As soon as she was well enough to travel, Valeria left Mexico and settled in the Bay Area. For years after her attack, she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and serious depression. Tired of living in fear, she began to feel imprisoned by her uncertain immigration status. With NCLR as counsel, Valeria filed an application for asylum with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2005. Asylum was granted in September 2007.