On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage, a significant milestone in the decades-long struggle to achieve equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. “Today, we can say in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect,” said President Obama. But amid the euphoria of the Supreme Court announcement, many LGBT activists echoed a consistent refrain: Their work is not done. One of the issues that came to the forefront during the week before the Supreme Court ruling was the plight of transgender detainees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Roughly one in 500 detainees held by ICE is transgender, many of them migrants from Central and South American countries that seek asylum in the United States, according to an investigative report by Fusion. But a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office found that one in five substantiated sexual abuse and assault cases in ICE facilities involved transgender detainees. Under ICE care, advocates charge, transgender detainees are often subject to mistreatment, including long stints under solitary confident, denial of hormones and other medication, and widespread transphobia. (ICE representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)