Marking the day of uplift: #TransLivesMatter

Written by: Janani Bala

On the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and marking the day of uplift for #TransLivesMatter, we continue to have a great deal to mourn. Every 32 hours a trans woman is reported murdered. 2013 was a record year for violence against LGBTQ people, with a 29% increase over the year previous. 53% of LGBT homicide victims were trans women. Proximity to transphobic and homophobic violence is determined by race, class, gender, geography, etc—89% of LGBT homicide victims are people of color. We can’t separate our understanding of gender liberation from racial and economic justice. Some of the worst sites of anti-trans violence continue to be prisons, detention centers, and police encounters.

Trans people seeking asylum for gender-based violence, for example, are frequently detained and face continued rates of gender and sexual violence within detention centers. Rates of sexual assault in detention are 15 times higher for queer people than their heterosexual counterparts. Trans people, especially trans women, face additional violences in detention including in immigration detention: misgendering, lack of appropriate healthcare access, and anti-trans harassment and violence.

As immigrant and/or diasporic people, our take on trans work is not just about respecting pronouns. It’s about reclaiming models of trans-ness/gender self-determination that have been erased—through war, colonialism, genocide—from our ancestry and archives. We have to bring our communities with us. It’s about a trans politics that holds non-English speakers and ways of giving voice to gender justice in our original tongues. It’s about trans politics that centers undocumented people, incarcerated people, detained people, deported people. It’s about acknowledging that not all of us have access to spaces or capital to express our genders and bodies, about valuing both visibility and invisibility. It means that when Filipin@ and queer/trans activists demand #JusticeForJennifer (Jennifer Laude),  trans woman murdered by a US soldier in the Phillipines, it is a move towards both demilitarization and deescalation of gender-based violence. Violence against trans people escalates under militarism, under police, under prison culture—those systems actually necessitate gender policing and therefore anti-trans violence.

We can’t continue to view trans justice as only a matter of honoring our dead, however. How can we support trans activists who are doing the constant work of manifesting gender justice now? Our comrades need both our resources and energy. Here are some steps you can take immediately:

1. Sign this petition in solidarity with Jennifer Laude

2. If you have the means available to you, consider giving to a fund for grassroots trans-led organizing.

A message from NQAPIA: Join NQAPIA, GABRIELA USA and API Equality-Northern California for #transwk in raising visibility of AAPI Trans communities. Share your stories of empowerment and honor those we’ve lost.

Sample Tweets:

  • If we are committed to trans life, we must be committed to ending military and police violence #Justice4Jennifer #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • 89% of LGBT hate violence victims are POC. Anti-queer violence is racialized. #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • Trans solidarity looks like RESOURCING our community, while also honoring our dead.  #TransLivesMatter #TDOR
  • Jennifer Laude’s life and death is about both trans and anti-colonial justice–the two are linked. #Justice4Jennifer #TDOR
  • Jennifer Laude’s death is a product of both militarization and anti-trans violence. Demand justice: #Justice4Jennifer

We need administrative relief on immigration NOW!

President Obama promised to act on immigration reform after the midterm elections. NQAPIA is urging that any administrative relief will include the special needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

Executive action by the President will help more than 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants – a disproportionate share are AAPI – who live under the fear of deportation.  Undocumented immigrants contribute tremendously to our nation’s economy and the LGBT community.  For example, Rev. Noel Bordador came to this country as a young man and overstayed his visa. In the 1980s, Congress enacted an amnesty program for undocumented immigrants.  Noel legalized and then became an openly LGBT ordained minister.  He now works with low income and other undocumented immigrants.

Imagine the millions of people who could benefit from administrative relief. In Uncovering Our Stories, community members shared their stories of immigrating to the U.S as children and being undocumented as adults, struggles with the broken immigration system and of family members in immigration detention waiting to be deported to a country that is no longer home because of minor crimes they committed as youth. Undocumented immigrants are us and our community.

As Asian Americans, we are the nation’s fastest growing minority group, largely due to immigration, and we need bold, broad and inclusive administrative relief to keep our families together. NQAPIA encourages the president to:

  • Expand the deferred action program to legalize undocumented immigrants including those with non-violent criminal convictions
  • Eliminate the family visa backlogs so that more LGBT AAPIs can be united with loving family members who support them
  • Eliminate the 1 year bar to apply for political asylum for LGBT people fleeing persecution
  • Greater prosecutorial discretion in all deportations and special consideration for the needs of transgender detainees
  • Create legal protections to guard against racial profiling
  • Expand visa programs for students and both low-wage and professional (H1B) workers


Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 to urge the President to keep his promise and use his executive authority to provide administrative immigration relief.

When you call give your name and address and say this: “I urge the President Obama keep his promise to act on immigration reform. I strongly urge the President to grant administrative relief that includes the special needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders.”

#AAPIs4Relief #queeringimmigration

NQAPIA in Solidarity with LGBT Immigration Action at White House

September 10, 2014- Many of our friends in the LGBT movement gathered at the White House yesterday to raise their voices in disappointment over President Obama’s recent announcement that he will wait until after the November midterm elections before issuing executive action on immigration. While we know that the ongoing intransigence of the House of Representative’s leadership has brought us to this stalemate, President Obama has prioritized political expediency over doing the right thing by the 11 million undocumented and their families.

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the organizations including Immigration Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GetEqual, Freedom to Marry, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, United We Dream, League of United Latin American Citizens that are taking to the streets, to Pennsylvania Avenue, and to Capitol Hill. We too have taken to the streets, to the House of Representatives, and to the White House in recent actions to call for immigration reform that provides relief for LGBT immigrants. In recent weeks, we have joined Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific lslander (AAPI) and other immigrant community advocates in escalating action on the White House and the Congress.

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

Ben de Guzman at 9.4.14 AAPI Press Conference

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

NQAPIA joins AAPI and Immigrant Rights Fight for Families March

One of these actions marked a particular moment in the LGBT and AAPI communities on Thursday, Septmeber 4 as Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs delivered 2,776 postcards to Gautam Raghavan from the White House Office of Public Engagement, calling for immigration reform. This hand-off signaled one of the last public actions for both men, as both Ben and Gautam announced their stepping down from NQAPIA and the White House respectively. NQAPIA is proud of Ben’s service and is also sad to see Gautam go, after working with him as the White House’s liaison to both the AAPI and LGBT communities for a number of years.

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

NQAPIA delivers 2,700 postcards on immigration to the White House

While these two public servants step off this stage with our best wishes, NQAPIA will continue to fight for immigrants’ rights. As Ben noted at a press conference last week, “This is not about politics, this is about people’s lives.”

Immigration Update: Where We’re at and What You Can Do

The national debate about immigration stands at a crossroads as we celebrate LGBT Pride month. We have moved the ball further than ever before, but with the midterm elections coming up in November, unless the Congress moves in June or July, nothing will happen legislatively this year. We are pushing the Congress to pass immigration reform legislation and the President to do what he can as well, but we need your help.

The AAPI community has mobilized locally and nationally for immigrants’ rights.  Yet, the LGBT movement has lost considerable steam after a victory for family petitions for married binational couples as a result of the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality last June.  Wrangling from conservatives in the House of Representatives has stalled legislation from moving forward.

NQAPIA and our Asian and Latino allies are still fighting for immigrants’ rights on the legislative front because it is the most assured way of giving legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants, of which 1 million are AAPI and half a million are LGBT.

Legislation Adopted by the United States Senate

A year ago the Senate passed an immigration bill.  It is a good start with expanded visa programs, a path to citizenship for the undocumented, and some legal protections, but there are also problematic heavy enforcement provisions, which should be removed.

Engaging The White House

The President has actively campaigned for comprehensive immigration reform, but a record 2 million immigrants have still been deported.  The President has an ability to act in the short term.  In collaboration with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, NQAPIA brought LGBT AAPI immigrants and representatives of local LGBT AAPI organizations to Washington DC for a special roundtable meeting with the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  We provided a variety of recommendations that the President can order to improve the lives of immigrants and their families.

Moving the House of Representatives

Last year, NQAPIA delivered 5,403 postcards to Congress calling for immigration reform. Thanks to our local partners, scores of volunteers, organizers from the Task Force, and supporters like you, NQAPIA undertook one of the largest grassroots mobilizations among AAPI and LGBT national organizations for immigrants’ rights.  But now, our voices are needed again more than ever.

The House of Representatives still continues to drag its heels and we need you to call your Member of Congress and demand that they pass immigration reform this year.  Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be directed to your Member of Congress’ office.  Tell them:

“I live in your district and I am calling to ask my Congressmember to support comprehensive immigration reform.  I support legislation that: 1) provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants; 2) keeps families together, 3) protects workers across the wage spectrum; and 4) preserves our civil rights and due process protections.”

Please call in the month of June.  There is no pride in being undocumented, deported, or in losing a visa.   But there is much pride in winning new rights and protections for LGBT AAPIs across the country.

We’re Hiring! Immigrants’ Rights Organizer

PLEASE NOTE: We have expanded our search for this position. Resumes will be accepted until the position is filled.


Job Announcement:

LGBT Immigrants’ Rights Program Coordinator

June 16, 2014


Title: Immigrant Rights Organizer (Or “Senior Organizing Fellow” depending on experience)

Location: Washington, DC

Job Status:  Full-Time for one year

Reports to:  NQAPIA Co-Director

Compensation: Commensurate with professional experience


Position Summary:

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) seeks an Immigrants’ Rights Organizer who will engage NQAPIA’s alliance of local LGBTQ AAPI organizations and mobilize the community on immigrants’ rights. NQAPIA’s immigrant rights program focuses to uplift the LGBTQ AAPI analysis and to more closely link the LGBTQ and AAPI movements with the immigrant rights movements. The ideal candidate will be a strong team player with a strong interest/background in grassroots organizing, community mobilization, public policy advocacy, immigration, social justice, AAPI and LGBTQ issues to further support our programming and local and national field actions.



The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations.  We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge homophobia and racism.



Membership Engagement and Leadership Development: Build relationships with local AAPI LGBT organizations. Encourage and support local advocacy and mobilization around immigrants’ rights and social justice.  Promote leadership through trainings at NQAPIA Regional Summits.

Immigration Advocacy: Execute NQAPIA’s advocacy campaign around immigrants’ rights and comprehensive immigration reform. Support local field activities, provide national coordination with to amplify collective voice around immigrants’ rights, and connect with policy advocacy in Washington, DC with Congressional offices and the Administration. Attend monthly meetings of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).

Media: Support NQAPIA’s communications work to amplify messages in the media (news media, social media, etc.) around immigrants’ rights and its implications for AAPI and LGBT communities. Promote NQAPIA’s “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign to highlight AAPI LGBT communities and the impact of immigration.


Skills and Experience

Organizing Experience: At least 2-3 years of grassroots organizing experience (or related experience).  Strong ability to cultivate individual relationships to inspire and support others to take action.

Leadership Development Skills: Strong ability to promote and train new leaders

Strong Self-Starter: The ability to develop new ideas on how to accomplish goals and the wherewithal to get the work done.

Knowledge of Immigration: Working knowledge of immigration, immigration policy, and immigrant communities is helpful.

Knowledge of AAPI LGBT Communities: Relationships with AAPI LGBT organizations, leaders, and advocates is helpful. Knowledge of Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and/ or Pacific Islander languages is not required, but definitely a plus.

Passion for Social Justice Work: Motivation to create change and dogged persistence will be critical to run a challenging campaign with many moving pieces.

Comfortable with Technology and Virtual Communication: An ability to work with local partners across the country across different communications platforms- telephone, e-mail, social media, etc.


Education and Training: A college degree, or 4-5 years of commensurate experience in the field is required.


Salary: Salary is competitive and is dependent on skills and experience. Health insurance, vacation, and other benefits are included.


To Apply: Submit a one-page cover letter describing your qualifications and a current resume to Glenn Magpantay at, with the subject like “NQAPIA Immigration Organizer.”


Applications due by June 27th or until filled.

Washington, DC Special Screening of “Documented” and Q&A featuring filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas- June 1, 2014

We are pleased to present a special screening of Jose Antonio Vargas’ film, “Documented” during its opening weekend in the nation’s capital.


Tickets are general admission- we STRONGLY encourage people to buy tickets online in advance here.


For the Sunday June 1 5pm showing, Jose will be on hand for a Q&A panel with leaders of local and national LGBT, Filipino American, and Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. Further information is below. Please note: you MUST buy a ticket for general admission to see the film as you would normally in order to stay afterwards for the Q&A. The venue is a small, independent theater, so seats will go quickly. We encourage people to come early and stay late!


Information for “Documented” Screening

Sunday, June 1, 5pm
West End Theater
2301 M Street, NW
5:00 PM Showing

Q&A Panel Featuring Local and National Advocates

Jose Antonio Vargas, Filmmaker and founder, Define American 
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Marita Etcubanez, Former Co-chair, Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress- DC Chapter
Ben de Guzman, Co-Director for Programs, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance 


National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Center for Transgender Equality
Kaya: Filipino Americans for Progress – DC Chapter
Asian Pacific Islander Queers United for Action (AQUA-DC)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS)
KhushDC: South Asian LGBT Organization in Washington, DC


Check our our Facebook page here.

NQAPIA Partners Come to Washington, DC: Bringing the Local Flavor

Photo Caption: NQAPIA partners with staff from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus


The flurry of activities in Washington, DC around Asian American/ Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month continued this week, but took on a distinctly queer tone as local partners from NQAPIA’s network came to the nation’s capital to take part in the action happening here.

NQAPIA board and staff joined representatives from Satrang in Los Angeles, DeQH in Madison, i2i in Chicago, VAYLA in New Orleans, GAPIMNY in New York, and PrYSM in Providence in Washington to bring their local stories and their local concerns to national policymakers. On Monday, May 12, we joined other community advocates from around the country co-convened by NQAPIA in collaboration with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to a special roundtable with the Department of Homeland Security. We joined our straight and cis-gender allies from other AAPI communities to bring our LGBT perspectives to bear at an important time as the agency is now reviewing its policies around deportations.

The following day, NQAPIA partners, joined by our allies at OCA: Asian Pacific American Advocates, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice: AAJC, had eleven meetings with offices of members of Congress to talk about immigrants’ rights and the issues happening in our communities. We met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus as LGBT constituents, and also met with members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, as AAPIs and immigrants.

By making sure that our AAPI brothers and sisters know of our concerns as LGBT people, and that our LGBT allies continue to keep immigration as a priority, our local partners made a unique impact in their short time in Washington, DC.



Check out some of the pictures below!







White House: Inside and Outside

This week, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBT people spent a lot of time engaging the White House on a range of issues. On Thursday April 24, the White House honored the most recent round of “Champions of Change,” recognizing AAPI advocates who worked to improve access to health care in our communities. NQAPIA was on hand as Bruce Thao, who is an Advisor for Shades of Yellow, was recognized as a Champion of Change for his work at Hmong National Development.

WHChamps 24April2014

caption: Shades of Yellow’s own Bruce Thao at the White House (second from the right)


Later that afternoon, the White House continued to recognize another set of individuals from the community as it named fourteen new members of the Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among the fourteen were openly LGBT people like Michael Byun from ASIA Ohio, one of the major direct service agencies for AAPIs in the Midwest, and the actor Maulik Pancholy. They will undoubtedly build on the work their predecessor Hector Vargas from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

On April 25, dozens of immigrants’ rights activists converged on the White House on the outside this time, calling on the President and the Department of Homeland Security to designate “temporary protected status” for Philippine nationals in the aftermath of Hurricane Haiyan.  The rally included people from the Relief 2 Recovery coalition, the #Not1More campaign, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). NQAPIA Co-Director Ben de Guzman addressed the crowd on behalf of NCAPA, saying “We know that relief means relief for gay and straight alike!”

NQAPIA continues to work on immigration issues and will be bringing a number of local partners back to Washington, DC to continue to bring AAPI LGBT perspectives to bear with representatives from the White House in May as part of Asian American/ Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Keep an eye out for the latest we’ve got going on via our blog, on Facebook, or Twitter.


NQAPIA Immigration Update: From Buford Highway to the Beltway

This past weekend, participants at our Atlanta Regional Summit put their learnings into practice and engaged the immigration reform debate by calling on their friends and family to weigh in on legislation being considered in Washington, DC. At the Center for Pan Asian Community Services in the Buford Highway ethnic neighborhood, 20 phone bankers in an hour got 77 commitments to call members of Congress in the South in support of immigration reform.

Right now, 100 of our sisters and allies from the We Belong Together campaign are in Washington, DC fasting in solidarity with #Fast4Families to highlight the urgency in our communities and the urgency for reform that will keep our families together and break the broken immigration system. Every day that goes by brings us further past the two million deportations that have already happened in the past six years and makes reform that much more elusive.

Can you join our Summit participants and make a call to your member of Congress today and ask them to pass reform? The script is below.

We thank you for your continued support of the issues our communities care about.

In partnership,

Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs


Phone Script

You can use the phone script below to call your member of Congress. If you have any questions, you can e-mail me.

Call 202-224-3121 and give the Capitol Hill Switchboard your address and they will identify your member of Congress and connect you directly to their Washington, DC office. If you know your member, you can also look them up online and get their direct number that way.

Congressional Staff Greeting: “Hi! Representative X’s office, how may I help you?”
Hi, my name is ___________ (your name) and I live in the Congressmember’s district. I’m calling to urge the Congressmember to support immigration reform that:
  • Includes a path to citizenship
  • Upholds civil and human rights
  • Keeps families together, and
  • Protects workers on all ends of the economic scale

I hope s/he will support the discharge petition that was recently introduced in the House. It is very important to me and my community that Congress votes on immigration reform this year.

Will the Congressmember support the discharge petition? 

[If supports]: Great! Thank you! I hope your boss will push for a vote on immigration on the floor as soon as possible.

[If no]: I am very disappointed and I hope the Congressmember will reconsider her/ his position. My family, friends and I will be voting in November and this issue is very important to us.

Thank you for your time.

LGBT Asian Americans Come to Atlanta with a Sense of History

Caption: The Center for Pan Asian Community Services, site for NQAPIA 2014 Atlanta Regional  Summit


National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance brings first LGBT Asian American Conference to the South and Supports National April 5 Day of Action on Deportation


For Immediate Release

April 4, 2014

Ben de Guzman


Atlanta, GA- On the anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fifty Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBT advocates and allies are convening to one of the cradles of the Civil Rights movement to claim our place in the journey towards the beloved community. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, along with a Planning Committee and local partners in Asian American and LGBT communities such as the Center for Pan Asian Community Services and Georgia Equality, is putting on what is believed to be the first ever gathering specifically bringing together AAPI LGBT communities in the South. During the Summit, NQAPIA will also stand in solidarity with national events happening around the country with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network’s #Not1More campaign.

“We are ready for this in the South,” said Stan Fong, NQAPIA Board member and Summit Planning Committee lead. “The AAPI community is the fastest growing racial/ ethnic group in the South according to Census data, and we are the vanguard of the conversation about LGBT justice as emerging voices are challenging conventional wisdom about conservatism and the South.”

“We have been here for a long time, and this Summit is an opportunity to invoke that history and move forward,” said Florence Tang, Summit Planning Committee member. “From building community to challenging racism in the LGBT community and homophobia in the AAPI community, and we are excited about charting our course for the future with NQAPIA and all our friends from throughout the region.”

“Our convening in Summit comes at a special moment at a unique crossroad in our history,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs. “April 4 is the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and we commit ourselves to the legacy of civil rights with love and respect for those who marched before us in whose steps we follow in Atlanta. On April 5 our Summit ‘marches’ in solidarity with advocates around the country calling on the President to use every resource at his disposal to keep our immigrant families together and stop indiscriminate deportations.”

Events for the weekend include a Friday night reception and programming Saturday and Sunday at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services. For more information, the Program Book is available online.