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Documenting Lives of Transgender Immigrants

Documenting Lives of Transgender Immigrants

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A new documentary, Crossing Over, will focus on the lives of three transgender women, all undocumented immigrants from Mexico. According to the Connecticut paper The Daily Stamford, the women -- Francis Murillo, Brenda Gonzalez, and Abigail Madariaga -- all fled rural Mexico seeking asylum after suffering physical and sexual abuse at the hands of family, community members, and even police, because they are transgender.

Filmmaker Isabel Castro, a student at New York University's Tisch School of Arts, tells the paper, "Their story is fascinating. The cultural and social pressures in Mexico just made it impossible for them to live there."

Though Castro has shot part of the documentary in Los Angeles, where the women live, she's hoping a Kickstarter campaign will help her raise another $4,000 to finish it.

Castro says that while it's difficult enough for undocumented immigrants to find safe work and a living wage once they arrive in the United States, trans men and women have an even harder time. "Many resort to working in the sex industry, where their chances of being exposed to HIV and developing drug addictions greatly increase," she notes on the Kickstarter page. "Abigail became addicted to drugs while working as a prostitute, and Brenda contracted HIV."

Both women have found treatment since being granted political asylum in 2008, and all three now have safe, stable employment, but Murillo's final hearing to determine whether she stays in the U.S. or is deported to Mexico isn't until February 13. Castro hopes to finish the film by next summer.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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