In September 2009 Tanya Guzman-Martinez was sent to Arizona's Eloy Detention Center for undocumented workers to await deportation back to Mexico. While in custody, Guzman-Martinez, who is transgendered, requested asylum under the Convention Against Torture; her argument was that she would be persecuted upon returning to Mexico for being biologically male but identifying as female. While Guzman-Martinez was eventually granted asylum in 2010, she nevertheless faced persecution and abuse as a result of being transgendered—just not from Mexican thugs.
According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union, Guzman-Martinez was harassed and assaulted by Corrections Corp. of America guards and inmates at Eloy between September 2009 and her release in May 2010. (CCA, which owns Eloy, contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain undocumented workers.)
Despite having "surgically altered her breasts, buttocks, hips, and legs to appear more feminine," Guzman-Martinez was housed with male inmates at Eloy because she still had male genitalia. The lawsuit says she was regularly referred to by male inmates and CCA guards as "dog," "faggot," and "boy." One CCA guard told a group of male inmates they could "have" Guzman-Martinez in exchange for "three soup packets." The lawsuit also alleges that Guzman-Martinez was "often inappropriately patted down" by male officers (keep in mind: she had female breasts).
Two incidents transcended bullying and harassment. One of them involved a fellow inmate, who pushed Guzman-Martinez up against a wall and groped her, then threatened to have her beaten and raped if she reported him. The other incident was even more appalling, and involved Justin Manford, a CCA guard (and U.S. citizen). According to the lawsuit, Manford allegedly forced Guzman-Martinez to watch him masturbate into a cup, and then forced her to drink his ejaculate:
Manford maliciously forced Ms. Guzman-Martinez to watch him masturbate into a white styrofoam cup and then demanded that she ingest his ejaculated semen. Failures by Defendants CCA, DeRosa and Manford to adequately screen and monitor Manford, and to prevent situations where a male officer such as Manford is alone with a transgender woman detainee and out of sight of others, enabled this horrific assault on Ms. Guzman-Martinez.
The assault followed a history of frequent inappropriate behavior and inquiries by Manford about Ms. Guzman-Martinez, including questions about her sexuality, whether she had a boyfriend, and whether other inmates had seen her breasts.
During the commission of the assault, Manford made offensive gestures, faces, and comments towards Ms. Guzman-Martinez and threatened that he could have her locked up in "the hole," lengthen her detention or have her deported to Mexico if she did not follow his demands.
Guzman-Martinez reported Manford that same day. According to the lawsuit, "Manford was subsequently convicted in the Pinal County Superior Court on June 8, 2010, for Attempted Unlawful Sexual Contact in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes." Fronteras Desk, a news outlet that covers border and immigration stories, reported on Dec. 9 that Manford "was sentenced to two days, time served."
For a full (and more horrifying) report of immigrant abuses in Arizona facilities, here's the Arizona ACLU's Detention Report 2011.
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