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Family demand justice as trans woman dies from burns covering more than 50 per cent of her body

Josh Milton April 12, 2021
Trans woman Sofía Micaela Catán dies after burns covering her body

Santiago del Estero. (Facebook)

Sofía Micaela Catán, a 24-year-old trans woman, died Sunday (11 April) after suffering burns on more than 50 per cent of her body.

Sofía was allegedly left to burn alive in her home as her boyfriend of 10 years left her following an argument on the evening of 3 April, elancastì, a local news outlet, reported.

She was rushed to the hospital in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, after panicked neighbours heard her languished screams of pain.

Her lungs had been damaged by smoke while her “face, hair, torso and legs” were covered in first and second-degree burns, her sister, Soledad Catán, told Nuevo Diario.

Soledad is urging prosecutors and police to treat the incident as a transphobic hate crime, pleading for “justice” for her sister.

“We hope justice is done,” she told the outlet.

‘I can’t get that image of her burned from my head’

Sofía Micaela Catán had been living with her partner, Patricio Orellana, at the time. Sipping drinks, the outlet reported that an argument broke out between the couple that night which ended with Sofía being burned.

Witnesses offered varying accounts of the incident, Soledad recalled, with one neighbour claiming the burns were caused by boiling water. Another, however, said flames were visible.

“I think it was the latter because her hair is like scorched,” Soledad added.

It is understood that Orellana told concerned neighbours that he had used the bathroom only to return and find Sofía had, he alleged according to Soledad, “thrown alcohol and set herself on fire”.

Soledad added that Orellana claimed he fled to a friend’s home to alert them “but later disappeared”.

“My sister never told us anything,” she added. “Everything was kept from her.

“Maybe she was afraid, but she never said anything. But we realise now that something was happening.”

For Soledad, who had sat by her sister’s hospital bed for days praying for a “miracle” as doctors told her Sofía was in “critical condition”, a sense of confusion over what happened that night. And questions that, with Sofía’s passing, police and loved ones may struggle to find answers for.

“We hope that my sister can be well and get ahead,” she said before her sister’s death, “so that she tells us all what happened that day.

“We all want to know what happened. Although we know that perhaps he can cover [Orellana] out of fear.”

She added: “I can’t get that image of her burned from my head.

“Every day I think about it. I’m still in a state of shock.”

More: Argentina, Hate crime, transphobia

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