Very often, the most vulnerable people seek asylum in the United States, fleeing oppressive and dangerous conditions in their home countries. Yet what many do not realize is that sometimes, the waiting for a decision can be arguably just as difficult and dangerous. This is especially true for transgender and non-gender-conforming people, who make up approximately one of every 500 immigrants, and an even higher proportion of asylum seekers. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun to make changes to their policies regarding these potential asylees, which can only improve quality of life in general.
Is Gender Identity Covered by Asylum Law?
U.S. asylum law has its roots in the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 protocol on refugees. The definition of a refugee propagated in the Convention is the one contained almost word for word in the U.S. Immigration & Nationality Act, and it permits application for asylum if someone is unable to obtain protection from, or return to, his or her country of nationality. If these criteria are met, there are five grounds on which someone may apply under U.S. law for asylum. Those grounds are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.