A transgender woman who used to have to do her grocery shopping between midnight and 3am to avoid abuse from the public has been granted residency in New Zealand on exceptional humanitarian grounds.
The 57-year-old UK citizen, who transitioned from male to female in her 40s, sank into a deep depression after years of discrimination in her home country.
She would be screamed at, stalked, pushed off pavements, and was beaten up on numerous occasions, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal decision said.
"Her severe panic attacks continued during this time. The trauma and discrimination continued and worsened following her gender reassignment surgery. She also became clinically depressed," the report said.
The woman initially came to New Zealand in 2009 to join her family, who had migrated earlier. Since being in the country, her father and sister have died, but she has a close relationship with her elderly mother.
She established an IT business and lodged an application for residency under the Entrepreneur category, but it was declined because her business was not trading profitably and did not add significant benefit to the country.
Her work visa expired in September last year, and she launched her humanitarian appeal against deportation within the month, outlining the years of discrimination and abuse she suffered in the UK, particularly once she began transitioning.
"Although the appellant had prepared her workplace from mid-2003 onwards about her transition, it was not supportive, and she experienced overt discrimination," the report said.
"She was regarded as a 'freak' by many of her colleagues. Her work tasks were downgraded and she was assigned tasks that could not be completed without the co-operation of members of the IT team, which was not forthcoming. As a result, the appellant became too depressed to function and left that company."
She also suffered abuse and "overt hostility" in public, so resorted to going to the supermarket in the early hours of the morning when there would be few customers, and parking as close to the exit as possible.
"She minimised her contact with the public, but was frequently the target of strangers coming up to her and asking 'what are you?'. Such people would grab her breasts to see if they were 'real' and touch her face and throat to check if she had 'male characteristics'.
"Some of the attacks the appellant experienced in the street resulted in physical injury and, when she reported these to the police, nothing ever came of it, even when her property was also damaged and she received threats that she would be killed."
The woman has no family, no home, and no job in the UK. She told the tribunal she feels "happy, settled and accepted" in New Zealand.
A psychologist told the tribunal the woman was "highly vulnerable" and was "at an extremely high risk of experiencing further trauma, abuse and discrimination if she has to return to the United Kingdom".
In the decision the tribunal members said they were satisfied it would be "unjust or unduly harsh" to deport the woman, and that it would not be contrary to public interest to allow her to stay.