Things That Matter

During Pride Month, Let’s Remember The Trans Latinas Who Have Recently Died While In ICE Custody

Trans people are likely the most vulnerable and persecuted population in America. Add race and status discrimination to the mix and trans mortality dramatically shortens. Eight black trans women have been murdered in the U.S. so far this year. And yet, the United States might be the safest, geographically accessible country in the Americas for trans people.

In the last few years, there has been an influx of trans people seeking asylum from the violence they experience in Central America and Mexico. When they arrive, they’re placed in ICE detention centers where their abuse and mistreatment has resulted in two reported deaths in just over a year.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed 28 transgender women held in ICE and released its report.

@bdnews24 / Twitter

In 2016, the HRW reported “serious and disturbing allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, of mistreatment, of the dangers of being placed with the male population, and [lack of access] to medical treatment.”

Women were being forced to endure strip searches from male guards. The solution to the abuse they faced in male populations was to place them in solitary confinement, rather than a female population.

Johana Medina Leon asked for medical attention for weeks before she died on June 1st.

@Dr_Whomever / Twitter

She pled for medical attention for weeks. On May 28th, ICE finally complied and she found she tested positive for HIV. ICE released her on parole, to be sent to an El Paso hospital with chest pains and died days later. Officials haven’t released a cause of death yet.

Medina Leon had passed the first round of the interview process to gain asylum from El Salvador.

@NMACCommunity / Twitter

She was held in detention over a month before her first interview and was going into her second month at the Otero processing center–a privately owned facility notorious for its abuses against the LGBTQ+ community.

Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez traveled from Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S. She died in ICE custody.

@ajplus / Twitter

Hernandez Rodriguez died on May 9, 2018. The official autopsy reports that she died of severe dehydration–a shockingly preventable death. Independent autopsies commissioned by civil rights activists discovered the proof of abuse Hernandez Rodriguez faced during her 16 days in ICE custody.

Hernandez Rodriguez had anonymously shared her stories of rape as a trans woman in Honduras.

@aflores / Twitter

She was part of the migrant caravan that the media decided to cover last year. The independent autopsies revealed that she had been beaten while in custody. ICE denies the allegations.

Medina Leon, 23, and Hernandez Rodriguez, 33, exemplify ICE’s inability to provide appropriate medical care to trans asylum seekers.

@MaketheRoadNY / Twitter

There is currently no policy that forces ICE to place transgender immigrants in the gender population of their expression. HRW reports that the most significant danger to a trans woman in ICE custody is being misgendered and placed in the male population. One trans woman interviewed revealed she was raped by three men in a detention center in Arizona.

More than 26,000 people have petitioned to release Alejandra Barrera, the longest detained trans woman.

@sonsandbros / Twitter

Barrera has been in an ICE facility since November 2017 when she first reached the border seeking asylum from El Salvador. In the last 19 months, she has had no opportunity to build a new life and is at increased risk of sexual violence while in ICE.

The Trans Latina Coalition is working to make sure Barrera is released.

@TransLatina_C / Twitter

Barrera experienced sexual assault by a gang and the Salvadoran military before leaving her work of trans right advocacy in El Salvador for a semblance of safety. Yet, her request for parole has been denied and she remains behind bars, without adequate access to medical care.

While LGBT people make up .1 percent of ICE detainees, they account for 12 percent of the victims of sexual assault.

@AlturiOrg / Twitter

ICE reported to Congress that 40 trans people were placed in solitary confinement in 2017. Twenty-five of whom requested the confinement, which is internationally recognized as torture because being in gen pop was unsafe.

Trans people seeking refuge are only finding abuse and death in U.S. detention centers. ICE refuses to accept any responsibility for these preventable deaths, perhaps because they think nobody is watching.

READ: New York City Is Finally Dedicating A Memorial To The Two Trans Women Of Color Who Started The Gay Liberation Movement

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The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Entertainment

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Photo via Getty

On Thursday, the cast of “Glee” paid tribute to Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rivera was a once-in-a-lifetime talent the touched so many lives personally and through the screen while she was alive. But perhaps none of Naya’s roles were as impactful as Santana Lopez was.

This year, GLAAD decided to take time to honor the impact Naya Rivera had on LGBTQ representation onscreen.

During a time when LGBTQ represenation onscreen was rare, Santana Lopez was groundbreaking for being both queer and Latina. Santana went from a shut-off closeted cheerleader to an out-and-proud lesbian woman. This was a story arc many queer kids had never seen before.

Demi Lovato introduced the cast of “Glee” with a touching speech. She described how honored she was (and still is) to have played Santana’s girlfriend, Dani, on the show.

“I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year,” Lovato said. “A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’”

“The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls — like I was at the time,” she went on. “And her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

Then, dozens of former “Glee” cast members gathered via Zoom to pay tribute to Naya Rivera.

The tribute featured former “Glee” actors like Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, and Kevin McHale. There were also many others.

“Naya would be honored to receive this recognition,” read the statement. “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

“This year marks the tenth anniversary that Naya’s character, Santana Lopez, came out on ‘Glee’,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beast on the Fox series.

“Santana basically got disowned by her family. And as alot of us know, that’s a feeling too many LGBTQ kids know too well,” continued Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel.

The loving tribute then ended with a written statement from Naya Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire, who couldn’t make it to the call.

“Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice.

“She continued: “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

“Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice,” the message read, in part. “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

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More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Things That Matter

More Anti-Trans Bills Have Been Introduced in 2021 Than Any Year in History

Trans rights are under siege in over half of the United States this year, as 28 states have proposed one or more anti-trans bills. The bills range from banning trans children from playing on sports teams to prohibiting doctors from giving trans youth life-saving care. 

Despite winning the White House and both houses of Congress, we cannot grow complacent. Now is the time for others from the LGBTQ community and allies to stand up and protect our trans brothers and sisters.

At least 28 states have proposed anti-trans legislation that could severely harm the community.

Less than three months into the new year, Republican lawmakers have already introduced a record number of anti-trans bills across the country.

According to a report published Monday by Axios, at least 73 pieces of legislation have already been put forward in state legislatures targeting members of the transgender community. Of those proposals, 65 specifically single out trans youth, such as bills prohibiting the kinds of medical care doctors can offer trans minors and others seeking to limit the participation of trans student athletes in school sports. 

Notable examples include legislative efforts by South Dakota and Mississippi, both of which passed bills in the past week blocking trans girls from competing in school athletics in accordance with their gender identity. After being approved by their respective Houses and Senates, their governors have vowed to sign them.

These would be the first bills of their kind to become law in the U.S. after numerous attempts to pass anti-trans sports bills in previous years. In 2019, a bill targeting trans student athletes failed in the South Dakota House by just one vote.

LGBTQ+ advocates are warning that the influx of this type of legislation will harm trans and nonbinary youth.

Trans advocates and experts argue that bills like this do not protect young trans people, and recent studies support this. In February, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report which argued that banning the trans community from certain sports programs would deprive an entire group of people of the benefits of athletics, including lower risks of depression, anxiety, and drug use. Despite so many states introducing legislation targeting trans youth in sports, the report also found that the argument of an “unfair advantage” does not actually hold up to data-driven scrutiny.

“This has been a significant part of my work at the ACLU for the past six years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, told CNN. “There have never been this many bills targeting trans youth voted out of committee and then making it to the floor.”

There is widespread opposition to anti-trans bills, and not just from LGBTQ+ civil rights groups. More than 55 major corporations have endorsed a statement against these bills and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in general; they include Facebook, Pfizer, Microsoft, AT&T, Apple, Dell, American Airlines, and many more. Nearly 550 college athletes have signed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association demanding that championship games be pulled from states that have anti-trans sports laws or are close to enacting them. More than 1,000 child welfare groups have taken a stand against legislation that would keep trans youth out of school sports or deny them health care.

States that enact anti-LGBTQ+ legislation often experience boycotts, as was the case with North Carolina and its anti-trans “bathroom bill” in 2016 and Indiana with its discriminatory religious freedom law in 2015. The former has now been repealed, the latter amended.

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