Only 1 in 500 people detained in illegal immigrant holding facilities is transgender–but that hasn’t stopped the Obama Administration from rolling out sweeping new perks.
Now, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will let the illegal immigrants they detain–some of them dangerous criminals–live with whomever they choose. Based on their self-proclaimed “gender identity.”
This represents a huge new victory for gay, lesbian, and transgender activists–who have long-wanted to see the United States Government stop sending transgendered immigrants to jails based on the sex they were born with.
“We believe this guidance is the most comprehensive for transgender individuals in any custodial entity,” said deputy assistant director for ICE’s custody programs, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, in an interview.
According to that same interview, Lorenzen-Strait apparently said that the only way to tell which gender the detainee “identified” with would be to “respectfully ask” them–so, basically, whatever gender a captured illegal immigrant says they want to live with, they’ll be allowed to. No questions asked.
The ICE handbook for dealing with possibly-transgender inmates provides a script on which questions to ask illegal who “appear to indicate a gender different from the sex listed on the detainee’s identity documentation.” But there’s no word on exactly how it’ll be determined who is actually transgender–and who is faking it.
Many of the transgendered illegal immigrants are seeking asylum in the United States not because of economic reasons, but because of discrimination they’ve faced in their home countries. Regardless of prevailing public opinion, life for a transgendered person is far better in the United States than it is in many Latin American countries, where many illegal immigrants come from.
But, because some of these immigrants are put in jails with people who were born the same sex as they were, there’s an increased possibility for sexual assault–especially because some of the transgender women in the men’s prison look quite a bit more like women than male prisoners are used to seeing.
In fact, more than 1 in 5 sexual abuse and assault cases reported to ICE as taking part in their detainment centers came with transgender victims. In one especially disgusting case, a male prison guard forced a transgender inmate to show her breasts, while he “inappropriately touched himself.”
The Obama White House–which has been increasingly willing to flaunt their support for sexual and transgender minorities in recent weeks–feels this stance will help to protect illegal immigrants from sexual abuse. But the larger repercussions–of having male inmates simply “being asked” which gender they identify with, in terms of prison placement–have yet to be determined.