Trans Activist Skips White House Event in Protest of LGBTQ Asylum Seeker Policy

We speak with Jennicet Gutiérrez, an organizer and co-executive director of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, who declined an invitation to attend the annual White House Pride Month celebration to protest the detention and deportation of LGBTQImmigrants and asylum seekers. Trans people are being held in inhumane conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. They are being misgendered, denied essential healthcare, and kept in detention centers. Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, a trans asylum seeker from Honduras, died while in ICE custody. Regarding Biden’s recent executive orders to establish some protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, Gutiérrez says, “We cannot just applaud and say, ‘Yes, you’ve done enough,’ when, no, that’s the least you can do.”


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AMY GOODMAN:This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We end today’s show with someone who was invited to the White House on Wednesday but didn’t attend President Biden’s Pride Month celebration. Jennicet Gutiérrez is a community organizer and advocate with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. She declined the invitation to attend to protest the Biden administration’s detention and deportation of LGBTQ+ immigrants and asylum seekers. In a letter addressed to President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, she wrote, quote, “There should be no White House celebration when trans and queer communities are suffering and being detained by your administration. There is no pride in detention.”

Jennicet Gutiérrez, welcome back to Democracy Now!Although President Biden signed executive measures to support the trans community yesterday, you felt strongly that you wanted to stand up for it, even though you were invited. Talk more about why you didn’t go to the White House.

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Hi, Amy. Thank you so much for having me back.

LGBTQPeople are being attacked. Undocumented LGBTQPeople, people living together HIVYou are still being detained or deported for any medical condition. So, knowing this, I couldn’t join the celebration.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re in Phoenix, which, by the way, is extremely hot, for people who aren’t following the news, I mean, well over 100 degrees now over the last days. Talk about Arizona and what’s happening to people on the border.

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ:Yes, thank you. Arizona is among the states that, along with Texas and Florida, have signed bills specifically targeting transgender individuals. And we are mobilizing with the No Pride in Detention, that it’s not OK for our community to be targeted, to be scapegoated, because, you know, lives are at risk. Amy, we will do everything possible to ensure that our voices are heard, and that our issues are being addressed.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennicet Gutiérrez, we spoke to you last in 2015, when you interrupted a speech by President Obama at the time. I would like to play a clip. This was a celebration LGBTSeven years ago, Pride Month was celebrated at the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I’ve told you that the civil rights of LGBT Americans—


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:Yes, but hold on a second.

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ:All rights reserved LGBTQ detention centers! President Obama, please stop torturing and abusing trans women in detention centres! I am a transwoman, President Obama. I’m tired of the abuse. I’m tired [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Jennicet Gutiérrez shouting, “I’m tired of the abuse.” So, that’s 2015, Jennicet. Vice President Biden, now President, was standing right next to President Obama. Do you think he has done more? And what would you say to Biden, if you were to meet him?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: He hasn’t done better. He has been at the top of power for too many years, even before he was elected president. He’s been a senator. He was vice president. And now he’s the most powerful man in the world. And he still — finally, you know, signed an executive order, but, you know, it’s not enough. It will never be enough. We cannot forget the most vulnerable. So we cannot just applaud and say, “Yes, you’ve done enough,” when, no, that’s the least you can do. End trans detention continues to be the demand. I have not been able to meet President Biden in person.

AMY GOODMAN:Can you tell us more about President Biden, and detention centres in general? You’ve been demanding the release of all people living with HIVOther medical conditions ICE detention. There’s the case of Roxsana Hernández in 2018, a trans woman from Honduras. Talk about Roxsana Hernandez’s family suing ICE DHSWhat happened to the Department of Homeland Security?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ:This is correct. There is a pending litigation against Department of Homeland Security — Security, excuse me — Customs, Border Patrol, CBP, because Roxsana Hernández, a trans immigrant woman from Honduras, 33, should still be living. She should still be fighting for her dreams.

The community was in great pain at her passing. Her family was shocked to learn that she had died while seeking protection in the country. Her nephew, only 7 years old or younger, you know, sent a voice recording a year ago, while many community members came to D.C., under this administration, demanding — right? — accountability and justice for Roxsana, Victoria and Johanna, three trans women who died in ICEcustody and asking for the release transgender people, those living with them HIVor any other medical condition. So, you know, to hear that message from a young sibling of Roxsana claiming and saying all she wanted to do was support and help her family and fight for her dreams, and she’s no longer with us. This to me is unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Jennicet, we have less than a minute, but if you can talk about LGBTQ+ asylum seekers stuck in Mexico, blocked from entering the United States due to Title 42 — that was the Trump-era policy — many of these experiences recently documented in a Human Rights Watch report?

JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Yeah. Title 42 has an undocumented impact LGBTQPeople, people seeking asylum in this nation. And it’s not a safe condition that they’re under. We will do everything possible to ensure that Title 42 is removed by the administration to allow people to enter this country and receive the protection they deserve.

AMY GOODMAN: Jennicet Gutiérrez, I want to thank you so much for being with us, community organizer and advocate with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, speaking to us from Phoenix, Arizona.

Also, Democracy Now!Is live-streaming all the January 6th hearings, today’s at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, at

Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Cam Baker, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Mary Conlon, Juan Carlos Dávila. Our executive director, Julie Crosby. I’m Amy Goodman.