My Mom Didn't Want To Take My Sick Sister To The Hospital Because We're Not Here Legally

My Mom Didn't Want To Take My Sick Sister To The Hospital Because We're Not Here Legally

The rights and protections illegal immigrants have in hospitals


"I don't think she should go to the hospital," my mom told me as we took my sister to the hospital. "But mom, she is sick and her temperature is at 106 degrees, we need to go" I responded. My mom and I arrived at the hospital 4 minutes later and watched as she was taken through the doors of the emergency room. My mother and I then were told to sit in the waiting area with the other people.

An hour or two later, I had noticed that my mother was still nervous about being in the hospital. "Do you think that they will be looking in the hospitals for people like us?" My mother asked me. I tried to reassure her by saying, "no, we're in what's called a sensitive location, the immigration authorities don't usually search for people like us here at a hospital," however, she continued to remain worried. We sat in the public waiting room for another hour before we heard a doctor called my mother's name.

As my mother left, entering the private area of the hospital, I continued to sit in the waiting room, since they were only allowing one person at a time at the moment; they said something about my sister being susceptible to germs and such, and that they wanted her to have the least exposure possible. In order to calm myself, I started to just observe other people around the room, and just as I began to look out the nearby window, I saw a car that said "Homeland Security" pull up and my hands began to shake.

I immediately went up to the front desk to see if I could be in the same room as my sister in order for the immigration authorities not to see me. My efforts were denied and I was told to go back to my seat, however, the receptionist before I went back to my seat told me to say, "I have the right to remain silent," and pointed her eyes toward the authorities walking through the sliding doors.

My palms began to sweat as they went up to each individual person, asking for their citizenship status, with each answering either, "American" or "Citizen." Then a man came up to me and asked me the same question, "Ma'am, what is your citizenship status?" "I have the right to remain silent," I replied. Then he looked at me for a moment, gave me a glare, then walked up to the front desk. I had a deep sigh of relief as he was at the front desk talking to the receptionist, and grabbed a magazine as fast as I could to not look suspicious.

"I am looking for a family called _____. Are they here at your hospital?" he asked at the front desk. After the receptionist nodded yes, he then demanded that he be guided to the room my family was in. As he was saying this, the hairs on the back of my neck began to stick straight up. What would I do without my mom and sister if they were deported!

"No sir, unless you have a warrant or are a member of the family, I cannot let you into their hospital room," the receptionist responded; she glanced at me while saying this. "Ma'am do you know that it is illegal for anyone to be harboring illegal immigrants," he told her. "Knowingly yes, however, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act states that we medical staff cannot reveal any patient information without patient consent. You cannot even go to that area of the hospital without a warrant," she said.

The officer looked angrily at her when she said this. He then began to go through documents on the front desk itself when she yelled "Stop! Those documents have confidential patient information and you are not allowed to go through them!" "Yes I can!" he shouted, "Without a warrant, you cannot!"

"Well tell me, ma'am, what can I do," he then asked her. "What you can do is to look at information in plain view, such as this," she replied, pointing at a paper that stated the details of a fundraiser at the hospital next week. "You can only look at what you see, such as this paper, but you cannot touch any document in order to see information under it, not a peek," she said confidently.

He looked even more frustrated and was incredibly infuriated with her. He then turned around facing me and shouted, "Everyone in this room, show me some ID that indicates your legal status, or you will be questioned by immigration authorities." The receptionist by the looks of her face had enough of this and yelled, "You do not have to give them anything! You all have the right to not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures." She then turned to the officer and said "I recommend that you reread our constitution sir, and in fact, California State Law. "Everyone who enters this country is entitled to the rights stated in the Constitution of the United States, regardless of their citizenship status."

The officer looked at her in shock, since he was used to getting his way, and after ordering the other officers to leave, left the hospital. As soon as the car left, everyone got up and cheered for the brave receptionist for her actions. She tried to brush it off because of her feeling embarrassed, yet at the end of the clapping said: "If you guys have any questions regarding your rights in a hospital, I'm your girl."

Soon after everyone sat down again, she called me up to the desk and put her hand on mine. "Everything is going to be alright," she said, "and you can go see your sister now, I'm sure your mother wants you to join her also." I thanked her and ran into the private area of the hospital. However, I looked back one last time and smiled as I saw the receptionist continue her work as if nothing had happened. "I guess not all heroes have to wear capes," I muttered, and then went down another hallway that led to my sister's room.

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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