25 June 2015

Why Did She Heckle The President?

It's all but impossible to determine how many transgender people there are.   For one thing, definitions of "transgender" vary:  Some would count cross-dressers; others would include only those who have had gender reassignment surgery.  For another, not all trans people self-identify, or are readily self-identifiable.

Interestingly, the easiest setting in which to count the number of trans people is detention centers for illegal or undocumented immigrants.  Trans people, more often than not, flee their native countries because they are transgender and will say as much on applications for documentation--or simply for release from prison.

According to one report, about one out of every 500 detained immigrants is transgender. Yet one out of every 5 cases of sexual abuse in such facilities is committed against transgender detainees. 

Those numbers are a reflection of what Jennicet Guiterrez had in mind when she heckled President Obama at a White House reception for LGBT pride month.

"I saw the President come in speaking about gay pride and the progress that's been made," says Guiterrez.  The activist at Familia TQLM, an organization that serves LGBTQ Latino/as says she's spoken to "trans women who were released from detention centers" and told about "the abuse and torture they're facing in detention."  Hearing their stories, she said, made her want to give them a voice.

Secret Service police escorted her out of the reception but didn't arrest her.    And Obama's self-congratulation--whoops, I mean celebration--continued.

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