You’re Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You’re Not Celebrating These Trans Women
There is no question that, in the expanse of gender identities, being anything other than cis male means fighting for your rights and space in this world. As we honor Women’s History Month, it’s important that we celebrate all experiences of being a woman, especially trans women, who are fighting up against sexism and transphobia.
You may not know all these faces, but the next 20 women you’re about to meet have devoted a lifetime of heartbreaking service to create the moment we live in today. Start lighting candles, because every single one of these complex, fierce leaders are saints in my book.
Every conversation about trans Latina pioneers must begin with Sylvia Rivera. Born and raised in NYC, this Puerto Rican-Venezuelan started wearing makeup in fourth grade… in the 1950s. Her family abandoned her and she was forced into sex work at 11 years old.
She was an activist for many causes in her life and is best known as the Boricua who might have started the Stonewall Riots which launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Rivera is a founding member of FIERCE, a non-profit dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth of color, and has been with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project since 2002. Her life is about helping others and it’s beautiful.
La Bamby is one of the leading, award-winning forces in protecting trans Latinas. She founded the one and only TransLatin@ Coalition in Los Angeles and was invited to speak at the White House United State of Women Summit on how to prevent violence against women.
Once a sex worker, Lopez is now the executive director of the Strategic Trans Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR). Her experience as a sex worker with law enforcement has called her to ensure that transgender inmates are protected from abuse. She was ordered to comply with a “genital check,” which she refused, and was forced to go to a men’s prison.
In 2017, Chilean actress Dani Vega made history by becoming the first transgender actress to present at the Oscars. You might recognize her from “Una Mujer Fantastica.” Thank you for fighting to be seen.
We first met Carrera as a drag queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since then, she’s transitioned, called RuPaul himself out on transphobic elements of his show, and has become the first trans person to be wedded on a reality television series. Today, she’s breaking the mold as a professional trans model and is advocating for space for trans people on the runway. Te amos, Carmen!
Cruz has been in the LGBTQ+ rights movement so long that she was friends with Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. She moved to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico when she was 4 years old and transitioned soon after. Today, she’s a senior domestic violence counselor for the Anti-Violence Project.
Diane Marie Rodríguez Zambrano
Zambrano is the first openly trans and LGBTQ+ candidate to run for office in her home country of Ecuador. She works hard with the Ecuadorian government to implement protections for trans people in the workplace, therefore giving legal options to trans people to just live in this world.
Caption: “Davia Spain is a dynamic performing artist, transformative presenter, informed educator, and filmmaker who uses her various platforms as opportunities to speak truth to power. Through her work, she taps into the healing abilities that performance art offers both on and off stage. She believes that by utilizing the radical potential of movement and song as vehicles for change we can reach a destination of collective rejuvenation and transformation.”
This Boricua gives back to her community on a full-time basis. She’s the community counselor for the NYC Anti-Violence Project and the co-founder of the Trans Women of Color Collective.
Noyola has an incredible track record of advocating for trans people. She organized the first ever National Trans Anti-Violence summit, which brought together over 100 activists. Noyola is the Deputy Director at the Transgender Law Center and spends her whole life working to abolish the oppressive policies that systematically criminalize the trans and queer communities of color. Get it, girl.
This talented Nuyorican has made waves by becoming the first starring trans character on a television series. Her performance as an HIV positive trans woman set in the ’80s in the series Pose will make you weep, inspire and motivate you to do more with this precious life we have.
We can’t talk ’80s ballroom without introducing the legendary Maldonado. This Boricua is known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue” for how she’s revolutionized the scene. Her dance moves and choreographical expertise has landed her on the sets of Will Smith’s “Whip My Hair” and Icona Pop’s “All Night” music videos. She’s also the first trans woman to star in a Nike ad.
We all first heard of Jennicet when she interrupted President Barack Obama to demand answers for the violence trans immigrants face in American detention centers. The Mexicana has been on the map for years, beginning with her foundation, “La Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.” Her work focuses on freeing the LGBT Latinx stuck in America’s immigration system.
Caption: “Meet the Case Manager for our Reentry program, Sasha Navarro ✨ Sasha works directly with trans and gender non-conforming people being released from jails, prisons, and detention centers and helps provide a smoother pathway for reentry. She helps assist clients with housing needs, hormone access, STD/HIV testing, and organizes LifeSkills courses to help folx navigate the system. Please contact Sasha Navarro if you know of any folks currently or formerly incarcerated and in need of services at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Peru-born Lint has dedicated her life to service of the American people. She works for the Florida Health Department and focuses on HIV/AIDS—which has made her uniquely qualified to chair the Trans-Latin@ Coalition.
Elizondo has been speaking up since before the Stonewall Riots and speaking on her experience as an HIV positive trans person. Her work with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other organizations has granted her the Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal honor of the 2015 San Francisco Pride Parade.
Corado was originally born in El Salvador and has made her way into the U.S. Capitol to speak up for our community. She’s set up a bilingual LGBT organization in Trump’s own backyard (Washington D.C.).
Bianey Garcia D la O
Bianey Garcia D la O organizes an annual trans march in New York called Make The Road NY. The Mexican-born activist has dedicated her life to decriminalizing sex work in New York.
Lorena Borjas has spent the last 30 years helping to advocate for trans women looking for routes out of sex trafficking and more. Borjas was at high risk for deportation until New York Governor Andrew Cuomo granted a rare pardon for previous convictions from when she was a victim of trafficking.