30 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 315 (2008-2009)
Struggles from the Margins: Anti-Immigrant Legislation and the Impact on Low-Income Transgender People of Color

handle is hein.journals/worts30 and id is 319 raw text is: 










       STRUGGLES FROM THE MARGINS: ANTI-
   IMMIGRANT LEGISLATION AND THE IMPACT
   ON LOW-INCOME TRANSGENDER PEOPLE OF
                                     COLOR


                                     Pooja Gehi*

    My client, Pina,1 is a transgender2 woman from Nicaragua and an
asylee. A few years ago she was at a friend's house when a police raid
occurred. All of the women, including Pina, were arrested for prostitution3


* Pooja Gehi, Esq., is a staffattorney at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) in New York City. At
SRLP she represents low-income transgender people and transgender people of color in the areas of
immigration, name changes and identity documents, discrimination and public benefits. SRLP is a
collectively run nonprofit organization that works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine
their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment,
discrimination, or violence.
    All names and some other details have been changed to protect confidentiality.
    2
    [I] use the term transgender and trans as umbrella terms to describe individuals whose
    gender identity or gender expression differs from that traditionally associated with their
    assigned sex at birth. Individuals may identify with the term trans or transgender, as well
    as or along with another term such as man, woman, transsexual, two spirit, aggressive,
    femme queen, or genderqueer. [I] generalize and use the terms trans women to discuss all
    people who were assigned male at birth .... These general terms are inadequate, however,
    because not all people in those categories identify as trans, as women, or as men. [I]
    employ [this] choice in language to include the broadest possible identities.

Pooja S. Gehi & Gabriel Arkles, Unraveling Injustice: Race and Class Impact of Medicaid Exclusions
to Transition-Related Healthcare for Transgender People, J. SEXUALITY RES. & SOC. POL'Y, Dec.
2007, at 8 n.2 (emphasis in original).
    3 Transgender people (transgender women in particular) are commonly profiled by the police as
engaging or intending to engage in prostitution. While some trans people, just like some non-trans
people, actually do engage in prostitution, this stereotype is perpetuated for all trans people in society;
like the targeting of other marginalized communities, this stereotype is also legitimized by the State and
particularly the police, often through false arrests. This is discussed in more detail infra Part II.; see
also AMNESTY INT'L USA, STONEWALLED: POLICE ABUSE AND MISCONDUCT AGAINST LESBIAN,
GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES 16 (2005), available at
http://www.amnestyusa.org/outfront/stonewalled/report.pdf [hereinafter STONEWALLED].

     Transgender individuals are often the subject of intense police scrutiny and [Amnesty
     International] heard many reports of transgender women being stopped by police and
     questioned about their reason for being on the street and where they were going, often
     under the pretext of policing sex work, even when those stopped were engaging in routine
     daily activities such as walking a dog or going to a local shop.

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