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Indonesian Transgender Woman Wins U.S. Asylum

A 42-year-old transgender woman from Indonesia won asylum in the U.S. based on Indonesia’s treatment of transgender people, the Jakarta Post reported Aug. 11, citing activist reports. 


Michelle Saraswati, who was a man named Michael Setiabudi until 2006, has been in the U.S. since 1998, remained in the country illegally when his work visa expired in 2001, and, as a gay man, lost an asylum claim in 2005.

Saraswati then reapplied for asylum as a transgender woman in 2006 and won her case at the San Francisco Immigration Court.

The Post said Saraswati convinced the court that Indonesia lacks legal protections and employment opportunities for transgender people.

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