This week’s #WCW is Jennicet Gutiérrez. If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because this mujer made headlines nationwide in June, when she interrupted President Barack Obama’s White House speech to call attention to the disregarded struggles that undocumented transgender women experience every day in the U.S.
The president, the media and the larger Pride community, as you may remember, lambasted Gutiérrez. She was called a "heckler" for blaring her truth for the world to hear. To us, the 29-year-old trans mexicana from Los Angeles is better described as a Latina crushing the patriarchy’s transphobic, racist a**.
Why was it important for you to bring up undocumented trans women during President Obama’s speech?
I had to interrupt the president’s speech because the problems undocumented trans women deal with every day are absent from dominant trans rights conversations, and they can’t be ignored any longer.
What are some of those issues?
Trans women in Mexico and Central America are fleeing their home countries because of the daily physical violence and persecution they encounter. Most of them turn themselves in at the border to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and are then incarcerated in detention centers. Inside, these trans women are physically and sexually abused, not given the proper medical care, thrown into solitary confinement for speaking up and stripped of their humanity when their gender identities are not respected. When these women leave and enter the general U.S. population, if they do, they are left to face the harsh realities of life as a trans woman of color. We lack access to employment, education, housing and healthcare services, which are all essential to our survival.
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