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June 2, 2021

Movement Maker Profiles: Jennicet Gutiérrez

Jennicet Gutiérrez is a transgender immigrant Latina from Tuxpan, Jalisco. She is a National Organizer with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation (TQLM) Movement - a national trans and queer Latinx and immigrant grassroots organization organizing at the intersections of trans and queer rights, and migrant and racial justice.

Who are your people?

My people are the LGBTQ Latinx community, my immigrant trans sisters, the non-conforming and transgender community. In general, a community that is organizing, that is speaking out more often than ever. Being part of this very strong community, despite all the challenges, is what I feel connected to.

What brought you to this movement?

What brought me to this movement were the personal injustices that I was living through, systemic and inhumane injustices. I dreamed and still dream of being a dancer, being a choreographer, making art, but the injustices that I lived when I identified myself as a trans woman, since I was three years old, prevented this.

Now, with the attacks against the trans community, especially the young people who want to dictate their own access to health. I ask myself, how is it fair that a person knows more than you, who you are? These injustices are what made me join the movement, I joined a movement of resistance, of power, and here we are to continue fighting.

What aspects of your work in the movement bring you joy?

It is obviously a complex, difficult job that requires a lot of dedication, a lot of passion and what brings me joy is to know that in the last six years the community is organizing. It gives me joy to see my colleagues, specifically trans immigrant women who come from Central America, from Mexico, and from other countries, raising their voices.

They are finding organizations and support that perhaps did not exist before. That gives me joy, to see the visibility of new faces, new voices, new leaders. Also to know that as part of Familia:TQLM we have taken on very complicated cases, where they challenge the narrative that dominates the immigration debate, that have to have everything right, impeccable, which is difficult for a human being or that if you have a criminal record, no, you are deported.

Familia has taken on these very complex cases and in particular two. Cristina and Valeria, who both had a record, made mistakes and had to pay for it.

Fighting for their cases and that both were won, that they were released and now they are fighting for their dreams, to reach their goals, that makes me happy and also to know that other asylum cases are being tried, that the judges are already listening to all the human rights violations that are happening.

Not only in our countries of origin, but also in detention centers and, because of all that work, because of all that advocacy, cases are being won, we are seeing more women being granted asylum. That also makes me happy.

What moves are you making to end the violence?

Aside from the work I've been doing, to end gender-specific violence, we are focusing on trans immigrant women who are gender non-conforming in detention centers, because we've heard their testimonies. They have spoken in front of elected officials at the local level, even at the national level, in front of Mayorkas during the Obama administration in 2016.Women confronted and told them through their testimonies the pain they experienced in detention centers, including nonverbal violence, physical violence, sexual violence.

Continuing to elevate this issue, we have the campaign to end trans detention. I believe that we are fighting for this campaign, so that we are treated with dignity, that we are seen with respect and above all, one of the keys of this campaign is to end the violence that our community experiences.

Inside the detention centers, there is systemic violence and also violence in society. The murders of trans women, specifically Black trans women, trans women of color are the ones who suffer the most violence and sadly there is the evidence that over the last few years has documented this epidemic of violence that is happening.

Focusing on the campaign to end trans arrests, coming together in solidarity with our fellow Black trans women, supporting where we can, demonstrating in the streets, collaborating where we can. I think that's one of the ways in which we're organizing to put an end to the violence.

How would you describe your leadership strengths?

I think one of my strengths is that I am discovering new things every day. I've had a lot of patience in my personal case of my immigration status, I've had a lot of patience in my transition as a trans immigrant woman. I believe that having patience, having compassion, these are qualities in which my leadership strengthens me and also learning from my ancestors, from those who have put everything and have struggled in other times.

I believe that this is a factor that has helped me and that I continue with a vision of liberation, where we can have an influence on new generations so that they can continue with this commitment to move forward for a more dignified future.

What helps you to stay in this movement?

What helps me to stay in this movement is to know that I no longer have to hide from anyone, to know that I can now live my life openly, to have stability. Since I made my transition, I left my family, I have been navigating and finding my place. Now I have found it.

Having the support of my family, having the support of my community, having a circle of friends that I appreciate very much, where we can be vulnerable, where we can tell each other things that are not easy sometimes, to talk or share. That sustains me, that gives me a lot of hope.

Knowing that we have to keep fighting for what we want in this world. I have the joy that my mother is still alive, she is 84 years old, she has all her trauma that she lived through, all that she could not heal in one way, but the fact that she’s alive, that she supports me, I think it is her mother's love, her blessings, and all the values that she instilled in me, that sustains me, that gives me the strength to keep going forward.

I want to keep learning, I want to keep seeing what other opportunities there are and how collectively we can make the change we really want to make.

Art by lizar_tistry