New program will expand emergency legal response for transgender immigrants

Oakland, CA – In preparation for the Trump administration, Transgender Law Center has launched an emergency response project, the Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE), devoted to expanding legal support and services available to transgender and gender nonconforming immigrants. TIDE builds on Transgender Law Center’s existing immigration programs and campaigns, including leadership in the #Not1More Deportation coalition, by recruiting and training pro bono attorneys to meet urgent legal needs.

“The Trump administration has pledged to devastate immigrant communities on an unprecedented scale, at a time when our government already deports people in record numbers and holds transgender immigrants in inhumane, abusive conditions,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “As a national organization dedicated to protecting the rights and lives of transgender people, we have a duty to launch a vigorous defense against this attack on some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

In addition to recruiting and training a cadre of pro bono attorneys across the country and connecting them with individual immigrants needing support, TIDE will work with grassroots community partners to develop community-led deportation defense plans.

“Many transgender women come to the U.S. desperately seeking safety from persecution, and instead find more violence and abuse in detention centers, followed by deportation back to the life-threatening conditions they fled,” said Flor Bermudez, director of Transgender Law Center’s Detention Project, which challenges the abuses transgender and gender nonconforming people face in prisons, jails, state hospitals, and immigration detention. “Our immigration system should respect the humanity of all people and the realities of the world we live in – but until that happens, we will do everything in our power to protect our communities and mobilize against politicians’ hateful and inhumane policies.”

Last year, Transgender Law Center and the Cornell Law School LGBT Clinic published a “Report on Human Rights Conditions of Transgender Women in Mexico,” which detailed the pervasive discrimination, torture, and murder driving many transgender women to seek asylum in the U.S. Judges frequently deny transgender women asylum because the conditions transgender women face are under-reported and poorly understood.

Alison Pennington, who joined TLC in 2014, is leading TIDE as the project’s immigration staff attorney. While Alison has worked primarily on nondiscrimination cases involving transgender youth and schools at TLC, she has 13 years of experience in the field of immigrant rights. She has worked at immigration legal services organizations on both the east and west coasts, primarily representing detained immigrants who were facing deportation, as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys interested in joining TIDE, as well as transgender and gender nonconforming immigrants with immigration law-related questions or concerns, can find out more at:


Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. TLC changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.