Many transgender people come to the US to escape violence or persecution in the country where they were born only to have similar problems in the United States. It is hard at times for trans immigrants in the United States to get basic needs met because we often encounter discrimination at work or we are fired. Many immigrants do not have health insurance. For those who do have health insurance, in many cases it does not cover health care related to the transition. In the case of immigrants who have HIV, it can be difficult or impossible to access medication. Many trans people also encounter problems when they cannot obtain identity documents that reflect their sex or gender. Therefore immigration papers may or may not represent who they are. 44% of hate murders reported in 2010 were committed against transsexuals or transgender women according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence (NCAVP). Those trans people who have been arrested for immigration issues are also at high risk of harassment or sexual violence.
My story: sexual abuse, political asylum and family ties
Arianna Lint, 41
"In Peru, before making the transition, I was the victim of much bullying for being a queer person and quite feminine. And the police attacked me. Once I was leaving a nightclub and a policeman stopped me. He took me to a parking lot far away, on the beach, put a gun to my head and sexually abused me. Then he left me on the beach. There were other incidents.
"I am a refugee and exile, which is why the United States gave me asylum. But when I came to this country and made the transition, I saw the many problems that trans people face. We do not have protections under the law.
"My mother supports me so much. My high school classmates see her and ask, ‘Mery, how is your child Tonio?' My mother has my picture with her and says, 'She is not Antonio anymore. Now she is Arianna'. She shows them the picture and tells them what I do in the United States.
"I am not permitted to go see my mother. I have a kind of asylum known as ‘withholding of removal’. So she comes every year for Mother's Day."
This is my story and there are many more like it in the US. Similar stories of many girls like me.