Culture

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.

Sylvia Rivera

@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

@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

@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

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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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

@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.

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The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Entertainment

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Photo via Getty

On Thursday, the cast of “Glee” paid tribute to Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rivera was a once-in-a-lifetime talent the touched so many lives personally and through the screen while she was alive. But perhaps none of Naya’s roles were as impactful as Santana Lopez was.

This year, GLAAD decided to take time to honor the impact Naya Rivera had on LGBTQ representation onscreen.

During a time when LGBTQ represenation onscreen was rare, Santana Lopez was groundbreaking for being both queer and Latina. Santana went from a shut-off closeted cheerleader to an out-and-proud lesbian woman. This was a story arc many queer kids had never seen before.

Demi Lovato introduced the cast of “Glee” with a touching speech. She described how honored she was (and still is) to have played Santana’s girlfriend, Dani, on the show.

“I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year,” Lovato said. “A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’”

“The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls — like I was at the time,” she went on. “And her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

Then, dozens of former “Glee” cast members gathered via Zoom to pay tribute to Naya Rivera.

The tribute featured former “Glee” actors like Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, and Kevin McHale. There were also many others.

“Naya would be honored to receive this recognition,” read the statement. “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

“This year marks the tenth anniversary that Naya’s character, Santana Lopez, came out on ‘Glee’,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beast on the Fox series.

“Santana basically got disowned by her family. And as alot of us know, that’s a feeling too many LGBTQ kids know too well,” continued Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel.

The loving tribute then ended with a written statement from Naya Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire, who couldn’t make it to the call.

“Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice.

“She continued: “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

“Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice,” the message read, in part. “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

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Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

After the Equality Act was recently passed in the House, Selena Gomez is now telling the Senate to pass the bill that would give added federal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mexican-American pop star also talked about her history with the gay community and how they helped support her music career.

The Equality Act would extend protections from the Civil Rights Act to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity when it came to employment, housing, education, and other public and federal accommodations. In 2019, the Senate under President Donald Trump refused to vote on the bill.

The Equality Act recently passed through the House and now Gomez wants the Senate to pass it as well.

In February, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. The bill passed through the House for a second time on Feb. 25. In a recent interview with the Recording Academy, the institution that hosts the Grammy Awards, Gomez is telling the Senate to vote on the bill this time and pass it through.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but we have so much further to go,” Gomez said about the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. “The Senate must pass the Equality Act. It’s absurd that this is even being debated in 2021.”

Gomez says the gay community helped support her 2009 breakthrough hit “Naturally.”

While Gomez was promoting her Latin music EP Revelación, she also revisited a few of her past hits. In 2009, she launched her music career with her band The Scene. Later that year, Gomez got her first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her breakthrough smash “Naturally.” While talking about her relationship with the gay community, she says they were the first ones to show that song love.

“Earlier you mentioned my song ‘Naturally’ and I remember when it was released, it truly started getting played in the gay bars before anywhere else,” she said. “I would hear from older friends that they heard when they went out. I was so jealous that I was too young to be out and dancing to it with everyone. The LGBTQ+ community has been there for me and I don’t take them for granted.”

The Equality Act is waiting to be debated by the Senate. This is Gomez’s first time speaking in support of the bill. Last year, she launched the Black Equality Fund to support groups like the Movement for Black Lives.  In March, she also asked for the Senate to pass the People Act.

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Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

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