Transgender immigrants face unique and sometimes daunting barriers trying to obtain documentation that matches their gender identity. They may also experience challenges when applying for visas, asylum or other hardship-based status. The Transgender Law Center addresses these barriers by offering assistance to transgender immigrants seeking to obtain California court-ordered name and/or gender changes.
We provide “know your rights” information to transgender asylum-seekers, and make referrals to local and national immigration attorneys who have experience representing transgender clients.
For immigration service providers, we offer transgender “cultural competency” trainings to help them recognize the ways in which the experiences of transgender people are similar to and different from those of non-transgender immigrants. In recent years, we have trained more than 300 agents of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as dozens of immigration attorneys.
- Immigration Law and the Transgender Client
A publication of Transgender Law Center and Immigration Equality for lawyers and advocates
- Immigration Law and Transgender People (English) and Las leyes migratorias y las personas transgénero (Español)
A fact sheet from Transgender Law Center and Immigration Equality providing basic information about immigration and transgender people
- Asylum Fact Sheet (English) and La Solicitud de Asilo Basada en la Persecucion por Identidad dé Genero (Español)
A fact sheet from Transgender Law Center and The Asylum Program on applying for asylum based on gender identity persecution
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Policy Memorandum
Transgender people are permitted to change the gender designation on their immigration documents with a signed doctor’s affidavit stating that they have had “appropriate clinical treatment.”
- Immigration Equality
Immigration Equality is a national organization working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV+ immigrants. You can find transgender specific information on their website under the Transgender tab.
Transgender Law Center supports California bill AB1080, which will help keep families of immigrants safe and united by rendering counties exempt from participating in the federal Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. S-Comm requires local law enforcement to cross check the identification of anyone they cite to ensure they are documented.
“Transgender people face high rates of police abuse. In fact, recent studies have shown that over 69% of transgender Latinas have experienced harassment from police. Law enforcement shouldn’t be incentivized to target people who they think may be undocumented,” said Maceo Persson, Program Manager.
How you can help: If you are a resident of California, please call your state legislators and ask them to support this important legislation. Visit the California State Legislature webpage for more information; there is a box on the right hand side where you can enter your zip code or address to find your representatives.
Client Advocacy: Alex
“Alex” (not his real name) is an undocumented transgender man from Mexico who lives in San Francisco. In 2011 he came to our office seeking our help to legally change his name so that his immigration paperwork could be issued under his current masculine name. In 2012, thanks to the changes to California’s gender change law, we were also able to help him file for a court-ordered gender change. We helped him fill out the paperwork and explained to his doctor how to write a letter confirming that he had clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition.
As Alex told us, “Estoy muy agradecido y feliz por la ayuda de Transgender Law Center. Yo no habría sido capaz de cambiar mi nombre y el género legal sin ellos. Me solía sentir vergüenza cuando mi identificación no coincidía con mi género. Ahora me siento mucho más cómodo. Su ayuda se ha hecho una gran diferencia en mi vida.” “I am so grateful and happy for the help of Transgender Law Center. I would not have been able to change my name and legal gender without them. I used to feel embarrassed when people saw that my ID didn’t match my gender. Now I feel much more comfortable. Their help has made a huge difference in my life.”
Immigration Related Blog Posts:
- Advocates urge Senate committee to advance immigrant women’s health May 20, 2013
- Statement of U.S. Transgender Organizations on Immigration Reform April 10, 2013
- Read: Letter to Department of Homeland Security on LGBT Detention February 27, 2013
- Connections Between Transgender Equality & Immigrant Rights January 29, 2013
- Trust Act Vetoed by CA Gov. Jerry Brown October 1, 2012