Transgender migrants encounter extreme violence in Mexico

According to a study done by the Mexican National Institute of Public Health, 36% of transgender people who stopped at a migrant shelter in Mexico experienced violence while at the shelter. This staggering statistic is even higher than the 27% of cisgender female migrants who experienced violence while stopped in a shelter.

The study also showed that 57% of transgender migrants surveyed who did not stay at a migrant shelter experienced violence (compared with 35% of cisgender women). Both of these rates are much lower for cisgender men, 20% of whom experienced violence while staying in a shelter, and 21.3% while staying outside of one.

These numbers reveal the overwhelming danger that Mexico's transgender migrants are facing. Migrants are poor, transient workers who are usually without permanent homes, and who depend on places like migrant shelters to provide them with a safe place to live. As such, they are particularly vulnerable to attacks, and transgender migrant workers in particular are targeted.

The difference in violence rates experienced by those who stayed in shelters and those who did not exemplifies the need for secure shelters for trans migrant workers. Despite the violence trans workers experienced within shelters, they fared much worse outside of them.

Such discrimination shows similarities to transgender homelessness in the United States. Trans people are twice as likely to be homeless than their cisgender peers: they are often refused employment or housing because of their gender identities and expressions. Sometimes homeless trans people are turned away from shelters. More often, they are not allowed to stay with residents whose gender identities match their own, making them vulnerable to violence. The combination of anti-trans bias and racism makes these realities even starker for trans people of color. Homeless shelter policies like the one implemented by the city of New York aim to reduce violence through proper staff training.

GLAAD urges the media to utilize this recent study and raise awareness of the persistent violence and discrimination facing transgender and gender non-conforming people in shelters.