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The Struggle of Dual Marginalization: Navigating Two Oppressed Communities

Bryan Avila
Courtesy photo
Bryan Avila


Pride month is an eagerly anticipated celebration for many of us, serving as a testament to the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community since the historic Stonewall riots. However, despite the progress we have made, there remains a troubling trend in the increase of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and hate crimes throughout 2023.

Allow me to share my personal experience of living at the intersection of two marginalized communities: as an undocumented individual and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, our two communities have come under attack through legislation that threatens our well-being and future. On one front, laws have been passed to restrict undocumented individuals like myself from engaging in everyday activities, even preventing us from driving with a friend. Simultaneously, efforts are underway to make gender-affirming care illegal for the vulnerable youth who need it the most. Shockingly, this is just one example of the 549 anti-trans bills introduced this year alone.

In the 2023 legislative session, the United States saw a staggering 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced, tripling the number from previous years. While most of these bills pertain to the education system and have not been enacted in New Mexico, their impact on us should not be underestimated. We must acknowledge how these laws continue to affect us both in the present and the future. The news of each new measure aiming to outlaw gender-neutral restrooms in educational facilities or prohibit trans children from participating in sports fills me with fear and sadness. For instance, Kansas passed HB 2238, the Equity in Women's Sports Act, requiring female student athletic teams to exclusively comprise naturally female individuals. Fortunately, New Mexico enacted HB 492, the Women's Sports Protection Act, to safeguard everyone's rights.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed SB 1718. This law mandates the use of E-Verify by employers, imposing enforceable penalties for hiring undocumented individuals. Moreover, it prohibits local governments from issuing identification cards to immigrant communities, invalidates ID cards issued to undocumented communities in other states, and requires hospitals to collect and submit data on the costs of providing healthcare to immigrant communities. This kind of legislation is nothing short of hateful.

I cannot fathom the daily struggles faced by someone like me—belonging to both the queer community and being an undocumented person of color—in states like Florida, where both my communities are targeted. Fortunately, I reside in New Mexico, a state that provides a sense of safety for LGBTQ+ individuals and transgender youth to flourish. However, even in this safe haven, I am plagued by the constant fear that my family and I may be deported or permanently separated.

In light of these challenges, I urge you to empathize with and comprehend the issues and laws faced by individuals like me. Compassion is what we need in times like these. Although the system continues to instill fear through the implementation of these discriminatory laws, we must stand tall and fight back. 

We will continue to take pride in who we are and use that as a tool against those who seek to oppress us. Despite all attempts, we remain Undocumented & Unafraid, Trans & Queer & Unashamed.

Bryan Avila is the UndocuQueer organizer for the NM Dream Team.

Bryan Avila is the UndocuQueer organizer for NM Dream Team.