culture

You’re Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You’re Not Celebrating These Trans Women

Dani Vega | lanacion.cl

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.

Sylvia Rivera

CREDIT: @glsen / Twitter

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.

Stefanie Rivera

CREDIT: @Latina / Twitter

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.

Bamby Salcedo

CREDIT: @labamby / Twitter

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.

Mariah Lopez

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Remezcla. 12 March 2019.

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.

Dani Vega

CREDIT: @SFVmovement / Twitter

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.

Carmen Carrera

CREDIT: @carmerncarrera / Instagram

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!

Victoria Cruz

CREDIT: @Rectangular_Eye / Twitter

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

CREDIT: @MRS_JCUPP / Twitter

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.

Davia Spain

CREDIT: @translatinacoalition / Twitter

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.”

Vanessa Victoria

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. PRIDE. 12 March 2019.

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.

Isa Noyola

CREDIT: @TransLawCenter / Twitter

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.

MJ Rodriguez

CREDIT: @PoseOnFX / Twitter

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.

Leiomy Maldonado

CREDIT: @leiomy / Twitter

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.

Jennicet Gutiérrez

CREDIT: @JennicetG / Twitter

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.

Sasha Navarro

CREDIT: @translatinacoalition / Twitter

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 sashan@translatinacoalition.org”

Arianna Lint

CREDIT: @Latina / Twitter

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.

Felicia Elizondo

CREDIT: @LyanneMelendez / Twitter

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.

Ruby Corado

CREDIT: @latinxbeauty_ / Twitter

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

CREDIT: @BianeyDlao / Twitter

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

CREDIT: @audrelorde / Twitter

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.

Here Are The Latinas We Should Honor This #WomensHistoryMonth

culture

Here Are The Latinas We Should Honor This #WomensHistoryMonth

@AOC / Twitter

March is Women’s History Month which means we’re all celebrating the Latina poderosas in our lives. Be sure to give them a big hug and a cosita or two to show your appreciation. There have been so many women that came before us that, in small and big ways, created space and inspiration for our poderosas to thrive.

Here are some of the most inspiring, history-writing Latinas, in every field from science, the arts, law and politics.

Rita Moreno

CREDIT: @HNMagazine / Twitter

Rita Moreno has been making headlines in the entertainment industry for over 70 years. The Boricua is one of a handful of people who have won an Academy, Emmy, Tony and Grammy, making her an EGOT. Our parents remember her as one of the first Latinas to be portrayed on screen in West Side Story.

Yalitza Aparicio

CREDIT: @yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

Aparicio is the first Indigenous American woman, the fourth Latina and the second Mexican woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Roma. This is no small feat. The actress had no formal training in acting and was working as a teacher at the time of her casting.

Frida Kahlo

CREDIT: @fequalsHQ / Twitter

The now famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was not appreciated during her time and was simply known as Diego Rivera’s wife. Today, her art, which explored ahead-of-her-time questions of gender, identity and being differently abled, have resonated with the masses.

Selena Quintanilla

CREDIT: @athena_vintage / Twitter

The one and only Selena was the Queen of Tejano music. She broke out in a genre that was dominated by men, and made it her own. You don’t think Tejanjo music without thinking of Selena.

Dolores Huerta

CREDIT: @txstbcat08 / Instagram

Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is the little known co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, most closely associated with her co-founder, Cesar Chavez. In fact, Huerta was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that resulted from the game-changing grape boycott on behalf of migrant workers.

Ellen Ochoa

CREDIT: @fiercebymitu / Instagram

Ellen Ochoa is the first Latina woman in the world to go into space, making history on April 8, 1993. She was aboard the Discovery shuttle for nine days while conducting research into the Earth’s ozone layer. Since then, she’s logged 1,000 hours in space total.

Sonia Sotomayor

CREDIT: @wes_sherman / Instagram

Nuyorican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Justice in history. At the time of her swearing in, people were criticizing every little thing she did, down to her red nails and red lips. She showed up in red nails anyway because she’s Latina.

Sylvia Rivera

CREDIT: @glsen / Twitter

Sylvia Rivera is the Puerto Rican trans woman believed to have started the infamous Stonewall riot with Marsha P. Johnson that launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement 1960s 1960’s. She’s not often credited for her organizing efforts and fearlessness. Pray to Santa Rivera next time you need a little courage.

Maria Elena Salinas

CREDIT: @mariaesalinas / Twitter

Maria Elena Salinas is not only the longest running female news anchor on American television, she’s also the first Latina to earn a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Her hard hitting work is focused on the injustices facing immigrant children, and her voice has spoken for and to Latinos for generations.

Sylvia Mendez

CREDIT: @sylviamendez92 / Instagram

Sylvia Mendez has been making waves for Latinos since she was eight years old. She’s the Mendez in Mendez v. Westminster, which ended school segregation in California. Today, her civil rights work has earned her a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

CREDIT: @aoc / Twitter

We all know who AOC is, because she demands to be heard on behalf of her constituents in the Bronx. This Nuyorican is the youngest Congresswoman ever elected and is here to shake things up. Her ambitious Green New Deal is enlivening the Democratic party with a true urgency to address climate change before it ravages humanity to the point of no return.

Celia Cruz

CREDIT: @celiacruzonline / Instagram

We all know Celia Cruz as the Queen of Salsa, but the Afro-Latina had to leave everyone and everything she knew in Cuba behind after Castro came to power. He vindictively permanently exiled her, and she wasn’t allowed to return even to say goodbye to her dying mother. Cruz sacrificed it all to bring the world a poderosa to aspire to.

Julia de Burgos

CREDIT: @gaychickendad / Instagram

Burgos’ poetry made waves in Puerto Rico, but when she moved stateside, her ballads to Puerto Rico and struggle with identity as an Afro-Latina weren’t acknowledged. Afro-Caribbean writers have paid tribute to her lasting work, and it’s time for the rest of us to follow suit.

Carmen Carrera

CREDIT: @carmen_carrera / Instagram

Don’t be fooled by her supermodel looks. Carmen Carrera is not someone to be messed with. The trans Latina has put RuPaul himself in his place around trans-inclusive language on his show, and is fighting for space for trans women on the runway. We see you, girl.

Gloria Estefan

CREDIT: @gloriaestefan / Instagram

Gloria Estefan is one of the greatest voices in a generation. The singer brought the sounds of the Cuban island to the U.S. and expanded on the hard work Celia Cruz already put forward. She has been honored with high-ranking awards for her cultural contributions to the U.S.

Gwen Ifill

CREDIT: @michele_norris / Instagram

Ifill was one of the first Black women to host a national public affairs program in the United States and the first to moderate a vice presidential debate. The Panamanian journalist paved the way for many others and Afro-Latino journalists today have Ifill to thank for the path she blazed.

Soledad O’Brien

CREDIT: @NEAFoundation / Twitter

O’Brien has had air time for as long as we can remember, and has had to struggle with combating prejudices and straight ignorance against Afro-Latinas along the way. Her hard work has made it easier for the women who have come after her.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

CREDIT: @roslehtinen / Instagram

After forty years of serving the American public in politics, this Cuban-American icon finally retired. I’d be ready to if I was the first Latina to serve in the Florida House, Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and finally the first Cuban-American in Congress. Pioneering is exhausting. Thank you for your service for the trans community.

MJ Rodriguez

CREDIT: @PoseOnFX / Twitter

Honey, if you haven’t seen Rodriguez’ performance on Pose, buckle up. Rodriguez is the first trans Afro-Latina starring actress to be on a television series drama and the camera is eating it up. We all are. 🤩

Sophie Cruz

CREDIT: @sharabkaufman / Instagram

Last, but certainly not least, is Ms. Cruz, who is not a future trailblazer, but a right-now-blazer. When she was five years old, she gave Pope Francis a letter that read, “I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents. I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy.”

In 2017, she was the featured speaker at the Women’s March, and is advocating for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program up to this very minute.

READ: You’re Not Celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth If You’re Not Celebrating These Trans Women

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