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They put her in solitary confinement for 7 months. Before that, she was in a prison full of men.

Sadly, Johanna's experience is not the only one. Trigger warning: Graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

They put her in solitary confinement for 7 months. Before that, she was in a prison full of men.

At 16, Johanna Sanchez was brutally raped by several men in a field in El Salvador.

One of the men said to her, "Faggot, isn't this what you like?"

Johanna decided she had to get out of El Salvador to escape danger, so she ran away to the United States, "where she heard life for women like her would be better."


Why was Johanna's life in danger? And why did the man call her a homophobic slur?

Because, while Johanna is a woman, she is also transgender. And because of her gender identity, Johanna's life is in constant danger.

The bias and hatred against transgender women is very real, as Johanna's story sadly shows. Often, the people who commit violence against transgender women assume that they must be gay men because they might wear make-up or might wear their hair long.

Not only is she a transgender woman, she is a transgender woman who crossed the U.S. border undocumented.

This makes things more complicated. Because, unfortunately, she didn't find help. Instead, she found herself in the immigration detention system.

Johanna was placed in a jail — with men.

    ...being locked up was a nightmare. She was beat up by a male cellmate. Then, guards told her the only safe way to house her was solitary confinement. There, she sat in a 6-by-13-foot cell for 23 hours a day with no human contact and no view of the outside world. She waited for an asylum decision for seven months.

Johanna decided that going back home was far better than being locked up in solitary confinement.

She was deported to El Salvador.

Almost as soon as her plane landed in the San Salvador airport, more nightmares followed.

It didn't end with the gang members. Watch her explain in this video below. (Warning: It's graphic).

Her experience is not an isolated incident.

Trans women of all backgrounds face intolerance everywhere they go. When they end up in the prison system, it only gets worse. And if they're undocumented? That's a triple whammy.

In its investigation, Fusion discovered:

    1 out of every 500 detainees in immigration detention is transgender.

    1 out of every 5 victims of confirmed sexual abuse in detention is transgender.

So while transgender individuals make up a very low number in ICE detention, they are hugely overrepresented as victims of sexual assault.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has more startling statistics about undocumented transgender immigrants (many of whom come to the U.S. to escape prejudice in their home countries).

    1 in 4 undocumented trans people reported physical assault on the job.

    39% of undocumented transgender people have lost jobs due to bias, compared to 27% of transgender U.S. citizens.

    21% of undocumented trans people have been evicted at least once due to bias, which is twice the rate of eviction for the general trans population.

This bias against transgender people is happening in the U.S. even before they are detained. And on top of that, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can legally place transgender women in with men, where they are likely to face physical danger because other inmates — or prison guards — see their gender identity as "unnatural."

So, we have to ask ourselves: Why are we letting this happen in the U.S.? Why are we making life horrible enough for people like her that she decided to go back to El Salvador? Why aren't we providing refuge to more people like Johanna?

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less