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Canada overturns refugee status of American man seeking asylum from “transphobia”

A Canadian court has overturned a decision granting refugee status to an American man who argued he was at risk of persecution in the United States due to “transphobia” and gun culture.

Daria Bloodworth, a 36-year-old who claims to be a “trans girl”, first sought refugee protection in Canada in 2019 and although his first claim was unsuccessful a 2022 Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) member found he had a genuine fear of prosecution.

Mr Bloodworth claimed protection “based on a fear of transphobic persecution, including by Americans, American society generally, and specific individuals,” according to court documents, which also noted he claimed he feared threats and violence by his former roommate, former landlord, and a debt collection agency.

But last week Federal Court Judge Christine Pallotta rejected the RAD’s finding that authorities in Mr Bloodworth’s home state of Colorado were unable to protect him from a roommate he claimed was stalking him and that his safety could not be guaranteed in other states.

Mr Bloodworth told the CBC he will either take the case to the Federal Court of Appeal, or make a new case before the RAD.

“It was made pretty clear from the get go that this was going to be an uphill battle — winning this thing, or even staying in Canada a little bit longer and not get murdered in the US,” he said.

“I honestly feel like this is home. I’m not going to say Canada’s perfect, but at least since I’ve moved here I haven’t been threatened with a gun or threatened with a knife. I haven’t been discriminated against because I’m transgender.”

Zool Suleman, an immigration lawyer from Vancouver with no connection to Mr Bloodworth’s case, said more “transphobia” persecution refugee claims from the US could arise depending on the ultimate outcome of his case.

“It is unusual for cases from the United States to be approved as refugee cases in Canada. Generally speaking, the US is not seen a refugee-producing country,” he said.

The 2022 Refugee Appeal Division member Dilani Mohan found Mr Bloodworth could not live in Colorado due to “open carry gun laws combined with the general climate of anti-trans hatred” and that it was not reasonable for him to move to a “non-discriminatory” state such as New York without being put into poverty.

But Judge Pallotta found Mohan erred by failing to assess whether Mr Bloodworth had “demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence that she [sic] exhausted the course of action reasonably available to her [sic], without success.”

She also ruled that it was a error to determine that Mr Bloodworth was unable to move to another state.

Mr Bloodworth lives in Whitehorse, and is studying biological sciences at Yukon University.

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