Jennicet Gutiérrez, the transgender woman removed from the White House Wednesday after heckling U.S. President Barack Obama during a speech celebrating Pride Month, published an article Thursday with a message to the president: You spoke about standing up for what’s right, that’s what I’m doing, too. In the letter, Gutiérrez explained why she interrupted the president and the struggles LGBT immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody face.
Gutiérrez, who is also an undocumented immigrant, disrupted the event for more than two minutes, shouting “no more deportations” while an exacerbated Obama shushed her and said it wasn’t polite. The crowd, an Obama-friendly group of LGBT activists, cheered her ultimate removal from the room.
“It is heartbreaking to see how raising these issues were received by the president and by those in attendance,” Gutiérrez wrote in the Washington Blade. “In the tradition of how Pride started, I interrupted his speech because it is time for our issues and struggles to be heard. I stood for what is right. Instead of silencing our voices, President Obama can also stand and do the right thing for our immigrant LGBTQ community.”
â€” reported.ly (@reportedly) June 25, 2015
Gutiérrez said that immigrant transgender women are 12 times more likely to face discrimination because of their identity. She also said that transgender immigrants make up about one in 500 people in ICE detention, but make up 1 in 5 confirmed sexual abuse cases in ICE custody.
Transgender women who are in federal custody are often misgendered and placed into male detention facilities, leaving the transgender women open to harassment and abuse, she said.
There are 75 transgender detainees in immigrant detention facilities each night, and the government has alternative detention policies for low-priority and vulnerable immigrants, a 2014 Fusion investigation found. The policy alternatives aren’t used enough, activists told Fusion.
Obama was lauding the LGBT leaders in the room for standing up in the face of oppression and praised the progress the LGBT community had made, especially during his time in office, when Gutiérrez interrupted him. "Hey, you're in my house," Obama responded sharply. "You know what, it's not respectful, when you get invited to somebody ..." he continued before being cut off again.
After Gutiérrez was removed from the room and he was able to finish the rest of his speech, Obama said that public perception, including the rhetoric of politicians, had changed dramatically toward gay marriage and LGBT rights in his time in office. That included Obama himself, who didn’t support same-sex marriage until 2012.
A request for comment from ICE was not immediately returned.