Transgender Immigrant Detainees to be Housed By Gender Identification

gay pride flagIn a surprising change of policy, immigration officials are considering housing transgender detainees in accordance with the gender they identify with, rather than their biological sex.

“ICE will allow for the placement of a transgender woman consistent with their gender identity, meaning that a transgender woman could be with biological females,” said Lorenzen-Strait, who was also appointed as a national coordinator for issues related to gay, lesbian and transgender detainees.

Although there is a detention center specifically for transgender women and gay men, only around 25 transgender detainees are held there, compared to the 60 transgender detainees spread across the country. Most of those are held consistently with others of their biological sex.

Given the population’s small numbers and increased risk, transgender immigrants should be offered alternatives to detention, said Aaron Morris, legal director of Immigration Equality.

“When you’re thinking about who should absolutely be released, pregnant women, people with severe health problems, transgender individuals, there are certain populations that weigh so heavily in favor of release that it is dumbfounding the knee-jerk reaction is always to detain,” Morris said. “It’s not in anyone’s best interest.”

However, immigration watchdogs are concerned that opening other options to transgender immigration detainees will alter the future of illegal deportation. If transgender illegals are allowed to remain in the U.S., it’s possible that immigrants afraid of being deported will try to pass off as transgender to avoid forceful deportation.