Each year, thousands of Mexican nationals immigrate illegally to Los Angeles in search of better opportunities and a safe, sustainable way of living. They work in the shadows, undocumented, hoping that their efforts will pay off and that they will become citizens. For the transgender individuals among them, the shadows are even more difficult to overcome. Faced with discrimination and the challenges of being undocumented, many transgender immigrants turn to the sex industry, often falling prey to its many dangers, including drug addiction, sexual violence, and HIV, simply to survive. "Crossing Over: Stories of Immigration and Identity" (Identidad Sin Fronteras) interweaves the stories of three such transgender Latina immigrants who came to the U.S. from Mexico in search of a better life.
Francis is on the brink of her final asylum hearing. We follow her as she prepares for her asylum trial and dreams about what her life could be after receiving it. We see her as she goes to work as a housekeeper, sending much of her salary back to her mother in Mexico, and her quest to find support and love in a foreign country.
Brenda received asylum in 2008. She is the matriarch of her community, exuding life, and she works as an HIV activist and community leader. When Brenda first arrived in the United States, trans women were embracing plastic surgery to achieve their desired looks. Now, Brenda fears she took the modifications too far, and what appearance means to her. Brenda is also HIV-positive and uses her own story to connect with and help her community, leading support groups and spearheading HIV outreach.
Abigail, like Brenda, has been granted stay in the United States and now choreographs Quinceañeras (a Mexican coming-of-age ceremony for girls) to pay for college, working towards her dream of becoming a community leader. However, despite her residency, Abigail suffers from pervasive demons like depression, addiction, and loneliness as she strives to achieve her goals.
Francis, Brenda and Abigail’s stories interweave to reveal the sacrifices transgender immigrants in the United States endure in order to live without fear of persecution or abuse in Mexico. The film highlights their reasons for staying in the United States, the sacrifices they make in order to do so, the barriers they continue to face as trans individuals, and why they believe those sacrifices are worth it.