Willow Frye

Transgender perspectives on the use of detention for asylum seekers and its impact on their health and wellbeing

Transgender asylum seekers carry with them a unique experience of immigration detention, which lies at the nexus of multiple marginalities on the axes of gender and race/ethnicity. They experience cumulative exposure to transphobia, xenophobia, violence, and trauma before, during, and after their migration. Legal consciousness is a framework rooted in a commonsense understanding of the law and its impacts on everyday life. Legal consciousness is understood to be situated in and contingent upon the social contexts within which it is shaped along the axes of race, gender, class, and legal status. Because studies of legal consciousness focus on ordinary people and how they view law and its efficacy, this line of research has broad implications for justice, legitimacy, and ultimately, social change. I will conduct qualitative interviews with formerly detained transgender asylum seekers using the legal consciousness framework. The two aims of the project are (1) to describe their perspectives on the impact of detention on their health and wellbeing and how those experiences intersect with their gender and race identities and (2) to highlight forms of resilience and resistance to structural violence and marginalization.