Culture

Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

laith_ashley / linndaquebrada / Instagram

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a solemn event that takes place every year in November. People around the world come together in local events held to honor the lives lost to transphobic attacks throughout the year. The life expectancy of a trans woman of color is 35 years old as many face physical violence for living as they are. Here are 9 trans activists who are fighting to make the world and safer and more welcoming place for trans women, men and non-binary people.

1. Bamby Salcedo

Salcedo is the CEO and co-founder of Trans Latin@ Coalition in 2009. The organization operates nationwide in the United States and works closely with trans communities in several states. Organizers in the group work with policymakers to shape laws to help the trans community and offer assistance in receiving medical care and fair housing in a country that allows discrimination based on gender identity in many states.

2. Carmen Carrera

Carrera first made a name for herself as a contestant on Season 3 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She didn’t win but she did use the fame and recognition to announce her transition shortly after the third season wrapped. Since transitioning, Carrera has worked tirelessly for trans rights and inclusivity within Latin America and within the modeling industry.

3. Shane Ortega

Shane Ortega was the first openly trans person to serve in the U.S. military. He has stood up and spoken out against President Trump’s anti-trans policies attempting to bar trans people from proudly serving in the military.

4. Laith-Ashley de la Cruz

De la Cruz started his modeling career at the same time he began his transition. The model and spokesperson has shared his story of acceptance and transition on news outlets in an attempt to demystify the misconceptions of being trans. He wants for people to realize that trans people are more than their transition.

5. Jennicet Gutierrez

Gutierrez is an organizer for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement (FTQLM) and is best known for confronting President Obama during a press conference. Gutierrez publicly confronted President Obama about the deportation of trans women to countries that are hostile to them. Gutierrez was born in Mexico and understands the fight many trans women across Latin America are involved in when it comes to their safety. Many countries have no protection for trans women who face violence for being who they are.

6. Manitas Nerviosas

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I see u baby

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Manitas Nerviosas is an indie musician in Mexico leaving her mark in the Mexican music scene. In a predominately Catholic and conservative society, Manitas Nerviosas sole existence in the music space is a form of resistance and pushing the boundaries of what gender means in Mexico.

7. Linn Da Quebrada

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ela não eh feia nem bonita

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Da Quebrada is a black Brazilian rapper who calls herself a gender terrorist. She is using her music to call out and fight back against the machista culture in Brazil. The South American country is notoriously known around the world for having shockingly high rates of transphobic and homophobic murders. The election of Jair Bolsonaro as president has sparked more fear among LGBTQ+ Brazilians.

8. Daniela Vega

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Bienvenidos 29 💅🏻

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Vega reached global stardom when “A Fantastic Woman” was released. The Chilean film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards. The film was praised by critics for casting a trans woman to play a trans woman role as she navigates life, love and work as a trans woman in South America.

9. Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera is one of two trans women of color who initiated the modern Gay Rights Movement at Stonewall in 1969. Rivera was at the New York City bar when police raided and began harassing patrons. Rivera, along with Marsha P Johnson, fought back and the riot led to days of unrest and the first LGBTQ+ pride march in NYC.


READ: Transgender Honduran Woman Died In ICE Custody, Weeks After Seeking Asylum

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You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

johnleguizamo / Instagram

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

This Body Positivity Activist Is Jessica Torres And You Need To Listen To What She Says

Fierce

This Body Positivity Activist Is Jessica Torres And You Need To Listen To What She Says

Maybe we all deserve hundreds more Jessica Torres to remind us that this world and its fashion isn’t just for las flacas. Jessica Torres is a plus-size model and body positive activist who isn’t going to be shamed for hiding her nalgas or accentuating the “right” curves. We have all the curves which means they’re all right.

Jessica Torres is keeping it real and combatting fat shaming by just straight up loving her self and her body. She’s calling out magazines every time they reshape a woman’s mind to cover their belly or show it off. She’s posting images of the “most unflattering outfit for [her] body type” to prove a point to the fashion industry. Fashion for plus-size women shouldn’t be about how to best cover and mask their bodies. It should be about fashion. If Jessica Torres isn’t the most fashionable chingona from the Bronx, we don’t know who is. I said it.

Her journey towards crop tops wasn’t out of self-love, but rather a love for fashion.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

She started her plus-size style blog to show off her outfits and inspire other plus-size women to live “fashionable fat lives,” she writes for HipLatina. Her blog was meant to be a stepping stone to get a job in fashion. 

Torres essentially became a body positive advocate by accident.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

“Any plus-size body that grows a following on social media and takes full body pictures is instantly labeled a self-acceptance warrior,” she said. She was just wearing bright colors and modeling off the clothes that inspire her, and a social media following just naturally happened.

Still, she didn’t love her body.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

But she did notice that she was holding herself back from embracing a diverse range of fashion because of her “body type.” Magazines love to dress women like they’re fruit: pear shapes, apple shapes, etc. Instead of dressing women for fashion, the clothes are meant to hide certain parts of their bodies.

Once she realized she was holding her fashion style back because of the “hate” she had for her body, she knew she needed to change.

Credit: @thisisjessicat / Twitter

Like so many of us, she didn’t walk outside in a crop top and a skirt for the first time feeling confident and gleaming with body positivity. But you fake it till you make it, and now, Jessica Torres identifies as a self-acceptance advocate.

For every outfit she was afraid to wear, she had the courage to open up about it on social media.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

She started sharing stories of being fat-shamed at the doctor and saw the comment threads as a communal space of support and inspiration for other ladies living while fat. When she was afraid to wear a two-piece for the first time, she wrote about that, too, and found other women who gained the courage to do the same in solidarity.

As her following grows, she’s also experienced fat-shaming within the body-positivity community.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

Her body was always being compared to Ashley Graham’s or Iskra Lawrence. When Torres went up a single size in pants, she noticed how society still only accepts certain curves that are deemed beautiful. Meanwhile, others promote obesity. 

Torres is staying present to the hypocrisies and to her self.

Credit: thisisjessicatorres / Instagram

Caption: “Throwing it back to that time I was butt nekkid and wet and Kelly told me to sit on her lap.”

Being a social media influencer hasn’t made her any less real.

Credit: @thisisjessicat / Twitter

Torres has partnered with Mod Cloth, Dove, and JcPenney to promote body positivity. She’s sharing her insider tips for strapless bras with the thickest, most comfy straps. She’s also still a person who tells publicists she farted. 😂

She’s not playing like her life is all together.

Credit: @thisisjessicat / Twitter

While this would be very disappointing for all our mamis to read, it is deeply comforting to us all who have been traumatized by Saturday limpias. Where’s the link, Jessica?

Jessica Torres is the boss of all of us, and that’s how we like it.

Credit: @thisisjessicat / Twitter

Tell me more about how I can all parts of myself, not just the ones that make me look like an hourglass. Who chose hourglasses as the epitome of sexiness anyway? All we know is that self-hate is a time thief and we’re done robbing ourselves of love, time and fashion, thanks to Jessica Torres.

READ: This Latina Tries On A Thong For The First Time And The Results Are Relatable

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