identity

Victoria Villalba, an Undocumented Transgender Activist Inspiring Change

Victoria Villalba

She’s 19 years-old, an LGBT and immigration activist, undocumented, transgender and this year’s recipient of the Colin Higgins Foundation Youth Courage Award. She’s a fighter. She’s Victoria Villalba.

Victoria first came to the U.S. when she was three years old, but when her father was deported, the family returned to Mexico. Twelve years later, Victoria bravely came out to her parents.

“When I came out they rejected me. I no longer talk to my parents,” confessed Villalba, who after being outcasted by her family lived on her own for three years in Mexico. She struggled to find housing and employment.

READ: Trans Latina Women Share their Story with #MyVanityFairCover

She sought political asylum at the U.S. border. However, her request was denied, and she was held in a detention center. Her situation worsened after Victoria reported the injustices taking place in the detention center. As a result, she was placed in solitary confinement for three and a half months. It’s been a year since she was released.

“Getting out was the only thing that kept me going,” said Villalba. “I didn’t have someone outside waiting for me, and I didn’t know what would become of me if I ever got released. [Would I be] getting killed in my country of birth for my gender expression or in this U.S. detention center?”

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Photo Credit: United We Dream/Facebook

Shortly after being released, Victoria joined the United We Dream: Queer Undocumented Immigrant Rights Project (QUIP) chapter in Arizona, an opportunity that would help her explore a new mission in life. Victoria became an avid activist fighting for the liberation of transgender and queer people in U.S. detention centers.

“I know I’m not the first one, and I know I won’t be the last,” said Villalba. “That’s why I’m standing up [for the trans community], hopefully the system stops discriminating against [transgender people] and starts treating us as humans.”

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Photo Credit: Sam Hubbard/Facebook

Her efforts have included launching hunger strikes, organizing informational conferences for undocumented transgender people, and spearheading success efforts to have three transgender women released from detention. Earlier this month the Colin Higgins Foundation presented Victoria with the Youth Courage Award and awarded her $10,000. The prize also included an all expense paid trip to L.A. Pride festival, one of the nation’s largest LGBT celebrations, where she’ll also be recognized at an awards ceremony.

“I feel honored to be receiving this award,” said Victoria. “I share this award with the trans community. I want to use the money to return to school and pursue a higher education. I want to become an immigration paralegal.”

READ: UndocuQueer Activist Changing the Immigration Debate

Despite her successes, her one wish is to be back with her family.

“Even though they don’t accept me, I want to be with my sisters and brothers again. I hope it changes one day. I want them to be proud of me and happy of how far I’ve come along,” said Villalba.

Her message to other transgender people, “you don’t need long hair, makeup or surgical proceedings to be who you are. If I want to wear makeup and get dolled up, I will. If I don’t want to I won’t. I perfectly love myself either way.”

Tell us about other LGBT  or immigrant activists that you admire. Please leave comments below.

13 Hot Copa America Players to Crush on All Month

Entertainment

13 Hot Copa America Players to Crush on All Month

Copa America
Jamie Squire / Getty

The Copa América, South America’s premier international fútbol tournament, is being held in Chile this year. Uruguay are the defending champs with Argentina favored to win – but let’s get down to the nitty gritty: who are hottest players to watch?

Javier Güemez – Mexico

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Guemez, a defensive midfielder, is a strapping young lad. At only 23-years-old, I’m sure we can expect to see his fetching profile and picture-perfect hair gracing the field for years to come.

Roque Santa Cruz – Paraguay

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Santa Cruz, a forward, was voted “Sexiest Player at the 2006 World Cup” by Kicker magazine. Nearly a decade later, he’s STILL GOT IT. He’s got this haunting stare that could be intimidating if it weren’t for his adorable ears that stick out just so.

Mauricio Pinilla – Chile

HOLA MAURICIO. Chisme has it that in 2007, Pinilla was caught in a room with the wife of another player. The only thing that can truly be confirmed is that at 6’1”, Pinilla is a tall drink of GUAPO.

James Rodriguez – Colombia

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Feliz día, happy day. 👍🏻

A post shared by James Rodríguez (@jamesrodriguez10) on

Rodriguez, an attacking midfielder, is known for his “selfless nature” on the field – SIGH. At only 23 years old, he is considered one of the most talented, young players in the world. Best of all, he’s telenovela galán style handsome.

Sergio Agüero – Argentina

Agüero, a striker, is well known for his footwork, dribbling and incredible scoring record. He’s basically a goal-scoring machine, but have you taken a look at his devilish smile and how it makes his eyes sparkle? DAYUM!

Radamel Falcao – Colombia

Falcao, a striker for the Colombian national team, has the ability to use both his feet (imagine what that means about his hands). The 29-year-old is sometimes referred to as “El Tigre.” Seriously?! And gorgeous? Let the swooning begin.

Leo Messi – Argentina

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Desayunando con ella 😜😜😜😜

A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi) on

Messi is considered by many to be the best player in the world. His jaw-dropping footwork and breathtaking goals lead some people to say he is the best player EVAH. OF ALL TIME. Bonus: he’s got rugged good looks and a sexy new tattoo on his arm.

WATCH: 5 EZ Moves to Soccer Stardom

Neymar – Brazil

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is known the world over as simply Neymar. He’s definitely flashy, but clearly there is substance behind the flash because the man delivers.  And he’s freakin’ cute and stylish to boot! By the time he was 20, he had 100 goals to his name, so he knows how to score.

Ezequiel Lavezzi Argentina

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#Paris

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Lavezzi, a forward is known in particular for his crazy fast feet, sharpness around the box (that’s what she said!) and hard-working style (AHEM). His nickname “El Pocho” seems to be in reference to some non-existent chubbiness. He’s dreamy and works the facial hair well.

Claudio Pizarro – Peru

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Pizarro, a forward, has been a great scorer for his club team Bayern Munich. For Peru, not so much. Still, you can’t deny his striking good looks and the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles is just too much!

Rafael Marquez – Mexico

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Marquez, one of the best defenders in Mexico’s history, has a reputation for playing a bit on the rough side.  If you like a little ~physical~ play from handsome players, Marquez is your man!

READ: 17 GIFs That Prove There’s Only One Cuauhtémoc Blanco

Eduardo Herrera – Mexico

Mexican striker Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera is tall, strong and down-to-earth. His club team is Pumas UNAM, which explains why he’ll make you purrrr. You can tell he’s worked hard in the gym and it looks good.

Willian Brazil

Known by his first name, Willian Borges da Silva is a winger who has solid attacking and defensive skills. Off the field he needs to star in some toothpaste commercials because that smile of his is EVERYTHING!

What player are you crushing on? Leave a comment below to let us know.

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