Immigration and “Sexile”

     Immigration is particularly important to the trans community in the way that those of trans identity try to migrate to other countries in search of tolerance and acceptance. However, in certain cases, some trans immigrants find themselves exiles of their homelands, or “sexiles”, due to the intolerance and rejection of friends, family, and society in their countries of origin. 

The term “sexile” refers to those of trans identity who immigrate to the U.S. in search of tolerance, acceptance, and freedom from prosecution who become “exiled” from their homelands, culture, and families due to how they identify sexually. Seen by Jaime Cortez (author of “Sexile”) first as a title  to the essay by Pedro Bustos, “sexile” is a term used “to describe the state of people who had been cast out from the prickly bosom of their birth cultures and families. Sexile the word is full of longing, awareness, invention, and displacement” (Cortez 5). In Cortez’ graphic novel, “Sexile”, Cortez illustrates the immigration and gender exploration of Adela Vázquez, a trans woman immigrant from Cuba in 1980. For Adela and many others like her, being a “sexile” meant being forced (whether literally forced or being made to feel as if they were unable to stay) out of their homelands into another country, such as the U.S., and being unable to return to their homeland, their family, and their friends all because of how they identify sexually. “Exile is a bitch, baby. You can’t completely leave home. You’re always still arriving home” (Cortez 50). In immigrating to the U.S., Adela was able to find a place of tolerance and acceptance regarding her sexual identity, and was able to become her “true self” as a trans woman, by accepting that while she may be unable to “find the shore”, that “All the in-between places are my home. This beautiful freak body is home. And every day I love it…” (Cortez 64).  

     While some trans immigrants to the U.S. are able to find such acceptance and freedom in the U.S. as Adela, unfortunately, some are not as fortunate and placed in detention centers where they face further prosecution and violence. “Why were asylum seekers- people fleeing persecution in their homelands for freedom in the United States- locked up in detention centers? Why is rape so easy to commit in such a place and, on the rare occasion when it is prosecuted, so easily reduced to misdemeanor charges?” (Solomon 4). In this way, even the U.S.  has proved that while society may be more accepting of those of those of trans identity, the U.S. Immigration system is not so willing to accept trans immigrants. To further worsen trans immigrants’ experience, trans identifying individuals are not able to be placed with binary sexual identifying individuals (ex. a man that identifies as a women is not able to be placed with other men as it make the trans woman an even more vulnerable than they already are), and are placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without the privileges of a normal detainee (i.e. no right to an attorney, no right to medical care, etc.). 

     The term “immigrant” is significant to the trans community in the way that it refers to the thousands of trans immigrants who try to find acceptance and tolerance that they can’t find in their homeland countries in the U.S. While some immigrants migrate and find acceptance, some only find more violence and discrimination. Some trans immigrants become what has been defined as a “sexile”, an exile of their homeland, friends, and/or family because of their sexual identity. Trans immigrants who flee their homeland seeking asylum (safety from discrimination and violence against them for being someone who identifies as trans) and then face discrimination and violence by the U.S. Immigration system is perhaps the biggest sign of proof that something has to be done about the U.S. Immigration system and the discrimination of those considered different from the “norm”.


3 thoughts on “Immigration and “Sexile”

  1. I love learning about Immigration laws but after reading about how difficult it is for trans people to migrant I can say it was emotional for me. I love the fact that you described in your reading about how hard it is for the trans community to return to their homeland and not be wanted. What I found interesting about the reading in this class was learning about what trans do just to live an equal life as everyone. Many transgender people have immigrated to the U.S. due to their marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. However, due to the legal difficulties that some transgender people occasionally face in getting recognition of their marriage, couples where one partner is transgender are strongly encouraged to seek legal information and advice prior to applying for marriage based immigration.

    Immigrants in America face a range of challenges and hostilities, and the current, broken immigration system violates basic standards of decency through indefinite detention, separation from partners and the denial of medically necessary healthcare. Because of sometimes-unclear documentation, challenges to their marital status, and blatant discrimination, transgender immigrants face additional hardships. Its really sad to see how these type of stuff can affect the trans community mentally and emotionally. While watching the video in class about that one lady who was raped and how badly she was treated I honestly was in shock how the immigration detention treated her as if she was tuff and masculine just because she was a male at birth.

    What I don’t understand or get is where the term “sexile” comes from because while taking this class I have learned that many people define it differently. I know it is a term that is has been used in arrange that implies the no-normatively of Latin Americans identity and sexuality. When it comes issues like this I feel that people should look for asylum. Anyone who is in the U.S. and has been harmed, or fears harm, in their home country because they are transgender, or because they don’t otherwise conform to gender norms, should strongly consider applying for asylum. Legally, the past’s harm, or fear of harm has to come from the government, or an agency that the government will/can not control in the person’s home country. The fear also has to be “legitimate” (which means that asylum applicants must provide some evidence of the harm they have suffered, harm that other people like them have suffered, or the existence of a policy or practice that would facilitate such harm).

    I honestly feel that many people suffer from trying to be accepted. One of the biggest challenges lies in authorities’ lack of awareness that gender is different from biological sex. ‘Transitioning’ is the outward process of publicly assuming one’s felt gender through clothing, behavior, hormone use or surgery. Hopefully many Trans people who suffer from sort of discrimination will one day seek the right that they deserve.

  2. While reading this piece on immigration it gave me a new perspective of how hard it truly is for transgender to migrate. As discussed in sexile we see how hard it was for Adele since she was exiled from her country for being transgender. What was interesting for me was to see how the U.S is always saying how accepting they are of transgender and anyone having to deal with the LBGQT communities yet the immigration system in the U.S still does not see the same views as others. It was interesting to discover that they are held in solitary confinement for over 23 hours without all the privileges that a regular detainee have. This is all because they are Trans, that’s insane to think that because of being whom they feel that they are that they are treated differently from others. Some Trans immigrants are migrating to find safety and live somewhere where they can be comfortable being who they are. But some only discover more violence and hate against them. It is so hard for these people to find peace as if it is not already hard enough just trying to live and be themselves they have not only people but authority figures against them as well. I did not realize how hard they make life for people who identify as Trans. They make even moving to make a better life hard and of course they get asked a thousand questions about themselves when they just are who they are. This blog post really opened up my eyes to how things really are. The U.S always portrays them as the land of the free but is everyone really free. To me it seems like there is a lot of loop holes to the word freedom here in the U.S. This write up did a great job of explaining what it means to be a transgender immigrant.

  3. I think “Sexile” has the common theme in our readings of “right to exist/live” in an area. The trans community it seems is constantly being shuffled, imposed and redirected. In many of the articles we have discussed, the trans community seems to get comfortable in an area, then has is uprooted, tension arrises and they are on to the next “home”. Going back to the “Screaming Queens” movie, I felt as though they made their sense of home at the cafeteria, but once the riot went down, they were no longer welcome. The police were involved, and it became violent, like many trans movements and significant events. As Kim touches upon above, its unfortunate the the US immigration system and justice system, has not beed able to fully supply the transgender community with equal and proper living conditions the cis-community is given.

    When I now think of the transgender community, I see them almost as a herd, slowly moving, never quite settling down for good. That seems to be a part of their culture, even in the transportation process and travels they are defining themselves, As if they leave their home, and in the travels prepare to present their new “selves” to their new “home” hoping to be accepted as they are and welcomed. Only to their dismay to be, as Kim quoted “Sexile” “always still arriving home”. This endless and constant race to get home, where they see the finish line just around the corner but can never quite get there. To see the light at the end of the tunnel but are never able to bask in that light. How lonely that must be. Even surrounded but those alike, to be viewed as a “temporary” in this environment you so wish so painfully you could call yours forever. I am truly saddened by the lack of “home” available to the transgender community. In all the places in the world, how is there not room for them? In every town, village, state, country, there should be made a safe place for everyone, everyone deserves a place on earth to call their “home”.

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