Friday, 2 December 2011

Video: New doco on trans Mexican asylum seekers in the US

Feature-length documentary Crossing Over is the story of three transsexual women from Mexico seeking asylum in the United States from the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse inflicted on them in their homeland.

Stigmatized by religious and patriarchal powers within their community, transsexuals in Mexico find acceptance elusive and jobs nonexistent. Francis Murillo, Brenda Gonzalez, and Abigail Madariaga – the three women who let us into their lives for Crossing Over – have been denied work because of their refusal to hide who they are. They have been sexually abused by police, neighbors, and by their own family members.

It’s difficult enough for undocumented immigrants to find safe work and a living wage once they arrive in the United States – but the transsexual men and women among them 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. Abigail became addicted to drugs while working as a prostitute, and Brenda contracted HIV. Both women have been more successful finding treatment since being granted political asylum in 2008.

Francis, Brenda and Abigail now have safe, stable jobs. Abigail is a dancer, Quinceañera planner, and student. She intends to become a lawyer to fight for transsexual rights. Brenda works at Bienestar, an organization that provides support and education to marginalized Latino communities in Los Angeles. There, she leads HIV education classes and support groups, and spreads awareness about Bienestar’s resources. Francis is a housecleaner and aid to a thirty-year old autistic woman.

Francis has yet to receive asylum. Her final hearing is scheduled for February 13, 2012, and will determine whether or not she is eligible to stay in the United States. If she is denied, she will be deported and sent back to Mexico.

Director Isabel Castro has started a Kickstarter page to raise money to finish her project. She is trying to raise $4,000 in 40 days to help pay for a crew, travel and equipment to shoot a documentary about 45 minutes long.
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