Category Archives: GLBT issues and rights

Op-Ed: A Call to Authenticity: The Plight of Transgender Refugees

Evander Jennings  

Picture this: You are looking out upon a scorched desert, humming the song your mother used to sing you to at night when you couldn’t sleep. As you hum this tune you realize there are many more sleepless nights ahead. You remember last night, like so many others. The memories flood back as you dab at the swollen eye you received from the men who beat and raped you, again. This is what you were running from; where you come from, people who are different, people like you, are better off being dead in most cases. Because you break down the barriers between man and woman, like your mother’s song, firm and unbreakable, yet soft and sweet. Because you are this other, Transgender, you were told to kill yourself or risk being killed by those you thought you could trust. Continuing on your journey you travel by foot across an endless desert to a neighboring country. The country of endless possibility, prosperity and most of all, safety. But sadly, this is only the beginning of your journey.

Transgender men and women already face impossible odds. They must steel themselves against wave after wave of hate, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, poverty, sickness, harassment and discrimination. They face a world that has no love for them, yet they cling to authenticity like a prayer. Transgender individuals in several countries across the globe are faced with the threat of death simply because they are living as their authentic and true selves. These individuals are unwelcomed within their home countries and in some vehemently criminalized, simply for trying to live as they are; as men and women. By increasing our knowledge about the issues transgender refugees face and trying to adjust the broken systems and laws that do this harm, we can play an active role in saving the lives of thousands of people coming into our country.

Transgender asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees all share a common and pronounced threat to their wellbeing, mental, and physical health. Not only are they subjected to inhumane treatment when being processed into the country, once allowed in they are subjected to horrors such as forced sterilization. Transgender refugees are detained for months and sometimes years at a time, as stated by the International Detention Coalition. Harassment, rape, and physical violence run rampant in the detention centers whilst they await processing into the country. They are often housed with those of their birth gender meaning for example, trans-women are housed with men, leading to sexual harassment and often physical abuse. There is often abuse from officers that are supposed to protect refugees into the country as well. One account from a woman named Tania Cordova from Michoacacan, Mexico stated:

“They didn’t have no place to house me, and they decided that if I wanted to be in general population, I was going to be housed with males,” she said. “I remember one day I went back to detention, and there was a female officer there who was supposed to search us, but not see us without clothes. She wanted to see what a transgender looks like.”

The way the system is as of now, the government is more willing to repatriate or relocate individuals back to their home countries than to allow them entrance into the country. Senior Director for Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission Dale Buscher explains that many LGBT persons are relocated instead of gaining the asylum though there are “76 United Nations (UN) Member States criminalize same-sex acts among consenting adults and seven of those states (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Somalia and Nigeria) maintain the death penalty for consensual homosexual acts.” In short this means there are potentially thousands of lives that have been lost due to repatriation, and relocation because authorities are not taking the possibility they are LGBT into consideration.

LGBT individuals that could potentially seek asylum are usually too frightened to reveal their identity due to fear of being turned away or discriminated against by officials. If asylum seekers are interviewed in a group setting, and it seems this is common, they may hide their identities due to this mixture of shame and fear. As Buscher states; “LGBT refugees risk having their claim denied if they are not able to speak openly about their sexual identity, how they were treated in their home countries based on that identity, and how it led to their flight.”. The fear that is a constant in the lives of these individuals doesn’t go away with leaving their hometown or village. Transgender people especially tend to be noticeably LGBT and yet are still turned away or repatriated back to their home countries. There seems to be a shift in blame towards the asylum seekers because of them hiding their identity, however this is an issue that needs to be addressed by those with the power to help instead of victim blaming.

These populations are overlooked and not taken care of in a proper way that shows them any human decency or respect. Until we change the way or immigration systems are set up and operated, more lives are going to be lost and shattered. We need to put legislators into office that don’t overlook or demean Refugees and asylum seekers coming into the United States. They are fleeing their oppressive countries to try live safely in the arms of this great nation and we are turning a blind eye to a people in need. They are being murdered, prosecuted, beaten, and raped because they are a little different from the norm. They are autonomous, emotional, human beings, simply because they look differently, sound differently, dress differently does not negate the fact they deserve basic human rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Evander Jennings is an Anthropology and International Studies double major with a focus in global diversity. Upon graduation he hopes to either work internationally, or on the home front to provide safety, aid, and support for those within minority groups.



Kenya’s top court considers case to legalize homosexuality

About the issues of Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Commonwealth that we are discussing in class, I want to share this news that is at least hopeful.

Last week the High Court in Nairobi started hearing a case that may decriminalize homosexuality. This is a big step considering that as we learned in class, Kenya like other African countries inherited from the colonialism an absolutely retrograde and violating legislation against of the rights of the LGBTQ community. According to this report, currently, in Kenya law prohibits “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” labeling it a felony that is punishable with 14 years in prison. Additionally in 2016, Kenyan courts ruled that forced anal testing of men was constitutional, and could be used as evidence in a trial of men accused of homosexuality.

Undoubtedly, this is a triumph for activists of the LGBTQ community who have fought for many years in these African countries to change the misconceptions about homosexuality imposed mainly by the British Empire and the Church.

Homosexuality in China

in 1984, It is issued by “the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to answer certain number of issues about the current handling of specific law application of Hooliganism”.The homosexual behavior was included in the interpretation of “hooliganism” .In 1997, the Chinese government abolished the hooligan law, an act considered by most to be a decriminalization of homosexuality. In 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list. The association’s evidence included a 1999 study that followed the lives of 51 Chinese gays and lesbians over the course of a year. The group found that only six of the subjects had emotional disorders.

In this article,we can see ,as for mainland China, well into the 1990s, homosexuality was considered both a crime and a mental illness in the People’s Republic. Gays were prosecuted under the “hooligan” law while the Chinese Psychiatric Association labeled it a mental disease.

Public attitudes are also changing, with many people growing more accepting of gays. The vast majority of educated, young people in urban areas have no problem with homosexuality.201038144058homosexuality_lg6

Pop Star Identifies As Pansexual

Pop star Miley Cyrus recently revealed to several publications that she considers herself to be gender fluid and pansexual, claiming that she doesn’t label herself as neither boy nor girl and doesn’t limit herself to those labels when choosing romantic partners.

Pansexuality is not new, as experts say there have always been people who fall within the realm, but the term is unfamiliar to much of the public.  By opening up about her own intimate choices, Miley has opened the minds of many millennials and drawn the ire of many less open minded individuals.

Either way, she has at least brought awareness to a topic that we’ll certainly become more familiar with in the future.

China: The Legal Position and Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the People’s Republic of China

Although thousands of years,although the feudal ruling class acquiescence of  homosexual behavior,but in the majority of  the people,it has been treated as a non-moral turpitude, which makes homosexuals in all aspects of life have been influnced.(1)family discrimination,this discrimination is not only from parents sibling,but also from traditional marriage to deceive the public and forced to choose.since sexual orientation openly gay often experience family discord,they rejected various setbacks and failures.(2) school,workplace discrimination.Almost half of homosexuals show their almost daily verbal abuse by students;another study showed that many homosexuals are rejected by school,isolation,abuse. For adult  homosexuals,since the private life of secrecy,it is difficult them to establish a good working relationship network with colleagues,which is very disadvantageous for career development .

Kansas’ Anti-Gay Segregation Bill

Words cannot express how much this angers me. I found this article on Tumblr recently, and couldn’t believe it at first. A few days later and I am still in shock that this is really happening. Gay people in Kansas can now be denied service, anywhere, such as in movie theaters, hotels, and public schools. If a gay person calls the police, the police can refuse to help them. This sickens me. -Tamara Kovacs

Political Cauldron Boils on U.N. Women’s Rights

In this article, Amy Leiberman discusses the outcomes of this year’s UN Global Gathering of Women. While the gathering did produce conclusions via a 17 page document on the issue of violence against women, it is heavily criticized by many within gender and women’s rights. Many individuals say that the meeting has turned into a battleground over rights, rather than a public forum. As more agencies are included in this forum, the path to agreement becomes that much more bumpy. There are also issues of certain regions working together, such as Africa. Conservative nations get the larger voice in this group, while those which are more liberal are quieted. The meeting also concluded in the resignation of Michelle Bachelet, former executive director of UN Women. The meeting does hold value however, in the opportunity it presents for women from around the share their voices. Many travel far and long to be a part of it. However, the results of the gathering still fell short in addressing protections for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people and condemning violence against women in personal relationships.





Indonesian LBT Women Exposed to Backlash


In Indonesia they are fighting for women’s rights, but LGBT rights are not considered to be part of those. In fact if LGBT rights are mentioned it brings backlash from the fundamentalists and weakens the advocacy for women. This is problematic because there is no one to speak up for the LGBT persons. Some of the organizations are fighting just to be able to gather together and associate with one another like in the East/ West film. Since the provinces are now allowed to govern themselves, discriminatory laws are being pushed through government by religious extremists. According to the author punishments can range from being stoned to death, imprisonment, and caning. There are some international activist groups trying to give assistance, but the government denies any wrongdoing. This reminds me of the conversation in class when we were discussing groups coming together to fight a common fight, such as women’s rights, and once they have made ground moving onto other issues such as LGBT. In this article I feel like the author is stressing the need to combine the two fights, as LGBT people are exposed to strict laws and punishments, and she is calling out CEDAW for their reluctance to speak about these issues.



Michelle Obama and Anti-Gay Laws in Russia

I found two articles this week that were equally relevant and thought provoking in light of our readings, and I could not choose to share just one.

The first is from the Feminist Wire where the first lady is being criticized for deciding to work in the home and how she is being looked at through the white patriarchal lens of feminism. My favorite quote from the article is from Flavia Dzodan  “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be BS.”

Washington Post and 'Feminist Americans' Won't Let Michelle Obama Have It All

The second article is about anti-gay legislation that is being pushed in Russia. We take our freedoms for granted all too often in the US and forget those that are fighting around the world to be able to kiss their partner or hold a public meeting. This is an excellent article about the LGBTQ movement on a global perspective.

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