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South American Migrants May Have to Prove Gender, Sexuality at US Border

Last month, Instinct author David Lopez wrote about how approximately eighty LGBTQ migrants arrived in Tijuana and split off from the main group as they were being discriminated against, and many got married to their significant others without fear of prosecution. Now they may have to endure more hardships, as they will have to potentially prove their gender and sexuality at the US border in order to be granted asylum, according to Business Insider.

The LGBTQ asylum seekers already have it harder than heterosexual ones due to the amount of homophobia and transphobia they will most likely face in the immigration detention centers they will be placed in. According to the Government Accountability Office, transgender detainees in ICE detention centers account for 20% of all sexual assaults. 

Historically, LGBTQ people were deemed as having psychopathic tendencies and were thus barred from being granted asylum, as only people who feared further prosecution based on their race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. In 1990, however, LGBTQ people were placed into a "particular social group," which allowed them to enter the United States if they were seeking asylum. There is a problem with this though: in order to qualify as a member of a particular social group, one must prove that they belong to the group. 

In the past, courts used stereotypes to discern whether or not someone is LGBTQ The stereotypes include the way someone dresses, their mannerisms, and the way they speak. Questions about sexual practices were asked in court. Thankfully today, judges are much more progressive and listen to claimants' stories about how they came to realize that they were not heterosexual, which is a definite improvement.

However, the way identity develops in people greatly varies by a contextual basis, i.e., cultures express their identities differently. Bringing it back to an LGBTQ context, it may be particularly difficult for transgender people to prove their gender, as the process of transitioning is not always what's best for trans individuals, and when it is, it is never as simple as presenting as the gender that they identify. Additionally, some people identify as gender non-conforming and will only potentially come to realize that they are trans after being assimilated into US society. 

Being granted asylum in the United States is most definitely not an easy process and by making it more difficult for LGBTQ people, the US government is treating an entire group of people unfairly. Hopefully, there will be a positive change, as LGBTQ people have it hard enough living in a country that does not accept them. 


h/t:Business InsiderGovernment Accountability Office