Monday, July 06, 2015

Back Up Off Jennicet, And Do Something About Trans ICE Detainees

I met Jennicet Gutierrez during the 2015 edition of Creating Change in Denver, and I enjoyed the time I spent getting to know her.

She is passionate about immigration issues as a undocumented trans Latina and other trans human rights issues.

A lot of people have been bumping their gums about Jennicet speaking truth to power during the recent LGBT reception on June 24 and interrupting President Obama's speech with a call to stop the jacked up incarceration of trans feminine detainees with the cis boys in ICE detention centers.

She was not only escorted out of the White House event, but hurtfully booed by other LGBT leaders as people opined, some in mind numbing ways, with their take on what happened.

Comparing her to Kanye West?  Seriously?   That's worthy of an SUF nomination.  But back to the post.

Here's what Jennicet had to say about it:

"[Obama] came out, started speaking and started to get into his speech on how wonderful everything is, and I couldn’t help but think about the conditions that my LGBTQ Latino/Latina, especially trans women of color, are facing in detention. So, to me, that was the moment I had to speak up. I had to raise awareness to the President and to everyone else watching that I’m not just going to celebrate, when my trans sisters are facing a lot of violence in the detention centers. [Trans women are facing] sexual and physical abuse, and I just had to send a message."

Jennicet GutiƩrrez
While I'm not happy about what happened since I believe along with a wide majority of African-Americans this POTUS has had far too much disrespectful crap aimed at him on a consistent basis, neither am I happy about the vitriol that has been aimed at Jennicet either.

Some of that vitriol has been borderline racist and transphobic in nature in some corners of the Internet, and it also in LGBT World has had the foul stench of respectability politics. 

As far as I'm concerned, Jennicet at that moment was channeling another trans Latina who in 1969 kicked off the very movement we celebrated at the White House during the last weekend of June in Sylvia Rivera.

As someone who met Sylvia in 2000. I can guarantee you that if she were still in this plane of existence, she would not only approve of what Jennicet did, but probably had she been in the East Room, joined her in speaking truth to power in calling on President Obama to halt what was happening to trans detainees and calling out you peeps who booed her.

For those of you who bask in the afterglow of respectability politics and a landmark Supreme Court case win, complete with access to those power circles, instead of whining about how 'it wasn't the right time or venue' to bring that issue up, how about you peeps using your influence to get something done about the inhumane treatment of trans feminine detainees when you can spare a moment from planning your weddings.

The safety of trans people in ICE detention may not be an issue of importance high enough on your priority list for the all marriage all the time peeps, but it has been important enough for people to get arrested protesting the horrid conditions in ICE detention for immigrant trans women.

And it was also important enough for Jennicet Gutierrez to interrupt President Obama's speech amongst her LGBT leadership peers and risk the consequences of that action.   

I also note for those of you trying to claim that Jennicet's action was ineffective, how do you explain the fact that 24 trans feminine women are being transferred soon to an ICE women's facility?

And it's interesting to note that  35 members of the House of Representatives recently sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson urging him to end the detention of LGBT undocumented immigrants. 

How do you explain the conversation that has been started about the conditions trans women face in those detention centers?   Not bad for a so called ineffective gesture.

So stop giving Jennicet hell, and start giving ICE hell until they stop housing trans feminine women with cisgender men in those detention facilities for starters.   Then we can move to the next step of ending incarceration and deportation of all LGBT people back to countries they fled to the United Stares from.

Because in many cases, the reason they are in the United States is because it wasn't safe for them to live their TBLG lives in their birth nations in the first place.

1 comment:

lifeafterdawn said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I've never had my writing compared to novacaine for the brain before. If you still think me worthy of SUF, that's your right. But I ask instead that you consider me as someone evolving in my privilege and my opinions. I've blogged a bit of that evolution and it continues as I read pieces such as yours and Jennicet's own Op Ed today in The Advocate. I am learning to listen and be silent, to raise up other voices over my own. Perhaps you can be among those who will give me the slack to do so without further condemning me, as I take positive steps toward betterment and my own growth as a human being.

I must also ask, since I agree with you that Sylvia would no doubt have joined Jennicet in shouting down the president, what about you? You didn't say what you would have done if you were in that room. I'd like to know your honest answer.