The first thing to know is that one in every five confirmed sexual assaults in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers involves transgender individuals, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The second thing to know is that ICE often houses transgender women in detention by putting them in solitary confinement for days, weeks, and even months on end. Being in solitary confinement for extended periods is a form of violence all its own.
Read the report and you’ll walk away thinking, “Is it any wonder Ms. Gutiérrez did what she did?” These are the types of actions people take when they are desperate to be heard—desperate to get the word out about an issue that has received scant coverage, let alone any action.
Taking on the president is something the LGBT community did continually in the lead up to “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. It is something the undocumented community did repeatedly before President Obama finally announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that gave Dreamers temporary deportation relief.
We would do well to remember more broadly that the history of struggle and oppression is also a history of doing what some consider to be "inappropriate" things at inconvenient times to remind our leaders and the people around us of the pain we are in.
A true activist takes that opportunity whenever she or he gets it. That Gutiérrez felt the need to shout down the president in his own house—during a political event, I might add—says a lot about just how truly desperate the situation is. In fact, I can't think of a single time during Obama's presidency that an activist actually heckled him inside the White House.
As lead marriage plaintiff Jim Obergefell said Friday amid the celebration at the steps of the Supreme Court, “Progress for some does not mean progress for all.”
For those of us who were lucky enough to have our humanity affirmed by the highest court in the land this week, it is no time to turn our backs on those who seek the very same.
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