Tracy Garza, Communications Associate
Lack of access to adequate health care has long been one of the most pressing issues faced by LGBT immigrant detainees, with potentially life-threatening consequences for those who may require access to HIV/AIDS treatment and/or hormone replacement therapy.
Transgender Law Center was thrilled to attend the recent informational hearing on this issue, convened by the Latino Caucus Select Committee on LGBT Latinos, and held at the Sacramento Capitol on August 15, 2012.
The hearing included first-hand testimony by transgender activist Bamby Salcedo, who spoke eloquently about her experiences in a detention center, where she was put in administrative segregation and initially denied adequate access to medically-indicated health care and hormone treatment.
Several participants mentioned the death of Victoria Arellano, a Mexican HIV-positive transgender woman, in July 2007, after being denied her medication and medical attention at the detention center in San Pedro, California.
Francisco Dueñas, a coordinator at Proyecto Igualdad, made some policy recommendations during the hearing, including implementing medically appropriate treatment for trans detainees (including, but not limited to, hormone replacement therapy), allowing for the adequate placement for transgender detainees, allocating resources for HIV training, and generally following all national protocols approved by the Federal government. He also advocated for greater State oversight of immigration detention facilities, and the possible appointment of an ombudsman to protect the rights of LGBT immigrant detainees.
“ There is a surprisingly large number of LGBT detainees whose lives are threatened because their medical treatment is either denied or seriously delayed,” said Assembly Member Ricardo Lara, who convened the hearing. “ The briefing provided an opportunity for individuals formerly detained to speak out on behalf of those currently in detention as these voices are often unable to break through the detention system’s walls on their own.”