black trans lives matter

Trans Migrants’ Lives at Risk: Black Trans Lives Matter

Black Trans Lives Matter marches take place across the world

The lives of transgender individuals are under threat: in the UK alone, hate crimes against trans and non-binary people increased in 2019 by 37% according to Home Office statistics, a worrying reflection of ongoing and increased transphobia. Protests across the world including the UK are bringing awareness to this civil rights issue, especially for Black trans individuals, at risk of both racist and transphobic violence. 

The case of Alejandra Alor Reyes, a Mexican transgender woman who was sexually assaulted and harassed during her detainment in a male immigration centre in Arizona, highlights the desperate need for change. 

Alejandra is waiting for an outcome of her asylum appeal. She fled her native Mexico due to transphobic abuse and violence. 

black trans lives matter
Protesters marched in Brooklyn, US, to raise awareness to the Black Trans Lives Matter movement. [Image: Vogue.]

Activists and campaigners are calling for her release on humanitarian grounds as Alejandra suffers with PTSD. Groups such as ACLU of Arizona, Trans Queer Pueblo and Detention Watch Network state her case is yet further evidence of the risk transgender immigrants are facing, being placed in gendered immigration centres that misgender them and put them in harm’s way. 

ACLU of Arizona attorney Yvette Borja said: “ICE [Immigration and Controls Enforcement] continues to fail to address [Alejandra’s] needs and further harms her by keeping her in custody.” 

It is believed there are approximately 90 transgender individuals in immigration detention in America, held in centres that identify them only by their biological sex

Borja added that due to Ms Reyes’ PTSD diagnosis, keeping her in immigration detention will “lead to mental health deterioration”. According to immigrant advocate Cyrina King, Alejandra has been subject to harassment and abuse all her life, including having left home at just 13 years old and living on and off the streets. 

trans lives flag
During Pride month, activists are raising awareness to the plight of all LGBT people around the world. [Image: Shutterstock/Ink Drop/The Jarkarta Post.]

Alejandra and those supporting her have decided to go public with her case in the hope it will highlight the injustice and that appropriate measures will be taken. 

It is believed there are approximately 90 transgender individuals in immigration detention in America, held in centres that identify them only by their biological sex. Such misgendering of trans and non-binary people is traumatic on a personal level and links to transphobia politically: two Black trans women killed in America just this month have both been misgendered, even in death. 

Since 2013, approximately 130 transgender and non-binary people have been murdered in the United States. In the UK, the killing of Naomi Hersi in 2018 sent shockwaves of fear across the LGBTQ community. 

Photographer and activist Ren Mars, from the UK, said: “The trans community is disparate and vibrant. We know we are frequently and actively targeted.” 

Pride is a protest, and as 2020 has shown us so far, protests are powerful.  

As transphobia rises in the UK and globally, these figures are something that should concern us all. Trans immigrants and trans people of colour are some of the most vulnerable communities under attack from police brutality. 

As Pride Month ends, it is time to take note of what prominent LGBTQ activists are saying: the constant danger trans individuals are subjected to is just one of the urgent needs for the LGBTQ community and it is time to go back to our roots. Pride is a protest, and as 2020 has shown us so far, protests are powerful.  

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