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UUA Welcoming Congregation Welcomes the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP)

Trans/Gay Immigrant Caravan Seeks Asylum in the US

Trans/Gay Immigrant Caravan Seeks Asylum in the US in 2017

By Ian Zdanowicz

The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP) is a post-release support, detention center visitation, direct service, and community organizing project that works with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Two Spirit, Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, and HIV+ immigrant prisoners and their families currently in detention centers, those that are recently released from detention centers, and those at risk at entering immigration detention in Tri State area (State of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut).

Our organization assists individuals coming out of immigration detention in securing structural, health/wellness, educational, legal, and emotional support and services. We work to organize around the structural barriers and state violence that LGBTQI detainee face in relation to their immigration status, race, sexuality, and gender expression/identity. We are committed to assisting our clients in building lives outside of detention, to break down the barriers that prevent folks from building fulfilling and strong lives. We believe in creating a narrative of thriving, not just surviving.

On February 13th 2018, QDEP's Bobby Steggert and Ian Zdanowicz participated in a panel organized by Unitarian Universalist Association at the All Souls Church. The topic of the event was forced migration of people identifying as LGBTQ. Debrown Idrissu and Edafe Okporo gave brilliant talks about their trajectories in their home countries and experiences regarding incarceration in detention centers and the immigration process in the USA.

Bruce Knotts, Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office Director, spoke about historical and recent realities of forced migration of LGBTQ folks. Bobby Steggert and Ian Zdanowicz described the asylum process in the USA and services and support that QDEP provides to their members/ clients. The panel was very successful and resulted in new projects of collaboration between QDEP and UUA members.

All Souls has invited QDEP’s will participation in Sunday Coffee Hour so that members will learning more about immigration, detention, and asylum. They are also planning fundraising initiatives, volunteering opportunities with UUA members in QDEP’s activities, visitations to detention centers, translations, and counseling.

QDEP and the clients we support, look forward to these and many other partnership with Unitarian Universalist Congregations and communities of faith. For more information and to learn more about how you can make a difference, please visit the QDEP website.

About the Author

Ian Zdanowicz

Ian Zdanowicz is a 33-year-old trans man born in Poland. For the past decade he has been engaged in the struggle for LGBTQ and immigrant rights. While living in France, he worked for three years with OUTrans, an organization that fights for transgender rights. He organized workshops about sexual...


For more information contact lgbtq@uua.org.