So We Have Marriage…

At least 60 to 70 percent of undocumented women migrants who cross the border alone experience sexual abuse.
At least 60 to 70 percent of undocumented women migrants who cross the border alone experience sexual abuse.

This is an amazing hallmark in our queer history and so many have sacrificed for the right to be equal in the eyes of the law regarding marriage. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said it best: “No longer may this liberty be denied.”

But let’s talk about the elephant in the room; we have our own LGBTQ community who booed undocumented immigrant and transgender Latina demonstrator Jennicet Gutiérrez and FAMILIA TQLM founder, in what President Obama refers to as “The People’s House,” for interrupting his speech during The Annual White House Pride Celebration. Mainstream media for an entire news cycle only reported on a heckler being removed from “my house,” as it was put by POTUS.

What’s wrong with this picture?

According to Isa Noyola, who shared with The Advocate, “Gutiérrez was in a room full of national LGBT leaders who gathered to celebrate the many accomplishments of the movement. You would imagine this would be a place to feel seen, safe, and validated. That was not the case.

“As soon as Gutiérrez proceeded to speak truth and ask the president as to why he is not releasing our trans detainees who face violence, the crowd began to jeer, boo, and hiss. As she continued, the crowd then began to drown her and chant, ‘OBAMA! OBAMA!’

“A transgender woman of color and undocumented leader in the immigrant rights and LGBT movement was booed and silenced by not only the state, but by the very same movement that purports to uplift and celebrate the transgender community.”

Our sister publication, El Hispanic News, has covered the problems detainees face at the U.S./Mexican border, including the violence against all women, and border security’s unwillingness to allow trans individuals to stay in detention cells that match their identity. Women are being brutally attacked, repeatedly raped, and gang raped. #Not1More

In the case of Christina Madraso, a trans woman, she sought asylum in the U.S. after being badly beaten for her gender identity in Mexico. However, her nightmare began when she was detained in the Krome Service Processing Center, where she was placed in the men’s ward, and faced harassment by guards and other detainees. She was then transferred into an isolation unit, where she was then sexually assaulted twice by the same guard. After the second rape, I.N.S. officials told her that she could either transfer to a mental institution, county prison, or give up her asylum claim.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Jennicet Gutiérrez, who took the one shot she had, and with all of her did what most would never do: She spoke up for the ones who have no voice, and she won!

“ICE will allow for the placement of a transgender woman consistent with their gender identity, meaning that a transgender woman could be with biological females,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s deputy assistant director of custody programs, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, said recently, according to the Associated Press.

Sadly, this does not make it any safer. Violence against migrant women at the border is not random or isolated: according to the U.N. Development Fund for Women report, at least 60 to 70 percent of undocumented women migrants who cross the border alone experience sexual abuse. The danger is even greater for migrants from Central American countries, who must pass through two militarized borders—between Guatemala and Mexico, and between Mexico and the U.S. Sexual violence often occurs while being robbed, as “payment,” or in exchange for not being apprehended or detained by immigration authorities.

I thought people were not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment?

Definition: Cruel and unusual punishment definition is punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Cruel and unusual punishment includes torture, deliberately degrading punishment, or punishment that is too severe for the crime committed.

Now, within our own U.S. borders we have just as much to fear as members of the LGBTQH community. The murder rate of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) is at its highest, according to a recently released 2011 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). The report also shows that transgender women, people of color, and youth and young adults are at a disproportionately high risk of being victims of what the NCAVP terms hate violence.

So yes, we have marriage, and in some states we can even smoke pot legally. However, we are far from free and even further from being totally equal.

–Melanie Davis, Publisher