The impact of ICE on trans folks


The current immigration issues are certainly not only an LGBTQ issue. However, members of the LGBTQ-plus umbrella, and specifically trans folks, are not exempt from ICE’s mistreatment by any means. One transgender unit exists: the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico.

After two trans women, Johana Medina Leon and Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, died in ICE custody, a video circulated showing inmates getting their hair done together and being jovial at the Milan Center. 

Shortly after, in late June, 29 trans and nonbinary migrants wrote a letter. Translated to English from Spanish, it states:  “There is no adequate medical attention to treat people with disabilities, HIV-positive people, those with skin infections (some of which were acquired here), and several of our peers lack medications. We fear retaliations, but more so we are afraid of being in this situation.”

As in all corners of society, systemic oppression is always at play. While reports and visits from congress people, as well as attorneys for the White House, confirm that folks being detained across all gender and sexual identities are being neglected and given terrible care, trans women of color are particularly vulnerable.

They face increased violence from others, greater healthcare needs often due to systemic neglect and needs for hormone therapy, and racism already intrinsic to ICE’s policies. This leaves trans women of color at much greater risk.

Reports from within detention centers also tell stories of queer folks being kept apart intentionally to remove any kind of community power, as well as verbal abuse and harassment from guards and ICE personnel.

While many in the U.S. contemplate how to stop these atrocities happening at the border and in neglectful centers across the country, we need to keep in mind our LGBTQ family and how we can support them.

We should all be asking: How can we ensure HIV treatment and hormone therapy and any other medical need that arises? How can we help with trauma, before, after and during stays?