The undersigned transgender service and advocacy organizations join to state their support for common sense immigration reform efforts that address the issues faced by undocumented transgender immigrants.
An estimated 20,000 transgender adults in the US are undocumented, and thousands of transgender youth who came to the US at an early age also lack legal status. In addition, thousands of transgender American citizens have immigrant partners or other family members who have been or may be separated from them by our immigration laws. Among a population that is highly marginalized, transgender immigrants are among the most vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Our current immigration laws, together with pervasive discrimination against transgender people, force transgender immigrants to live in dual shadows.
Many transgender immigrants came to the US to escape severe and often life-threatening persecution because of who they are. Others came fleeing desperate poverty; still others arrived at a young age with family members and have grown up in the United States. Transgender immigrants work hard to support themselves and their families, and make the best of the circumstances created by a broken immigration system and lingering prejudices against trans people. Yet among a transgender population that is already marginalized, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey shows that undocumented transgender people face even higher risks of discrimination and violence in employment, housing, health care, and when seeking various services. Trans immigrants often have nowhere to turn, find themselves shut out of jobs or education that could provide them with better opportunities, are denied the right to seek asylum or to be sponsored by a partner, and are thus subject to detention in inhumane and dangerous conditions. Given these factors, any vision of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and equality for transgender people must include ensuring security and safety for trans immigrants.