The protester was identified as Jennicet Gutiérrez by the Not One More Campaign, which opposes the Obama administration’s deportation policies.
Gutiérrez, an undocumented transgender woman, could be heard shouting “not one more” and “stop all deportations.”
“As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers,” Obama said. “But not when I am up in the house. My attitude is if you’re eating the hors d'oeuvres, you know what I’m saying? And drinking the booze? I know that’s right.”
Turning back to his speech, Obama touted the gains made for gays and lesbians under his administration and addressed an imminent Supreme Court ruling on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.
It looks like we will know whether or not marriage equality will be acceptable in all 50 states, and I for one am terribly hopeful. The issue that Gutiérrez is trying to bring to light is a really important one. However, this seemed like very bad timing:
Speaking to The Advocate by phone from Washington, D.C., Gutiérrez, a 29-year-old trans woman who lives in Los Angeles, said her outburst was unplanned when she initially attended the White House Pride reception with a spare ticket offered to her by a friend.
"[Obama] came out, started speaking and started to get into his speech on how wonderful everything is," Gutiérrez says. "And I couldn’t help but think about the conditions that my LGBTQ Latino/Latina, especially trans women of color, are facing in detention. So, to me, that was the moment I had to speak up. I had to raise awareness to the President and to everyone else watching that I’m not just going to celebrate, when my trans sisters are facing a lot of violence in the detention centers. [Trans women are facing] sexual and physical abuse, and I just had to send a message."
Gutiérrez was escorted from the East Room by Secret Service officers, and tells The Advocate she informed them of her immigration status.
It should be noted that at the time of the heckling, the President and Vice-President were not aware that Gutiérrez was a transgender activist. I want to say this: I support protest, and I have always said that protest requires being responsible for one's actions. At the very least, people will pay attention to the real and serious issues facing transgendered peole facing deportation. This is one woman's story.
In October, Hernández-Polanco sought asylum in the U.S. after facing constant violent attacks, harassment, sexual abuse, and discrimination in Guatemala. She was detained by ICE and placed in an all-male detention facility in Florence, Ariz.
After presenting her case to border patrol, she was detained by ICE officers, who claimed that her past deportations — which occurred when she was an unaccompanied minor trying to flee transphobic violence, according to the Transgender Law Center — rendered her a priority for detention under President Obama’s recent executive action surrounding immigration.
While detained, Hernández-Polanco faced abuse and sexual assault at the hands of fellow detainees and ICE staff as she awaited a hearing in her asylum case, she said in a statement to her attorneys. She described how male ICE guards patted her down six to eight times every day, often allegedly groping her breasts and buttocks, making offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pulling her hair. She also reported that ICE staff routinely verbally abused her because of her gender identity, including being called slurs like “fucking gay,” “bitch,” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detainees.
Today we may very well see marriage equality, but there is so much more progress to be made. Progress like this from our federal government must be made available to everyone in all work sectors.
Effective January 1, 2016, no carrier participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may have a general exclusion of services, drugs or supplies related to gender transition or “sex transformations.”
This letter clarifies OPM’s earlier guidance recognizing the evolving professional consensus that treatment may be medically necessary to address a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good news about not only marriage equality but also for the future of the ACA.