Things That Matter

A Transgender Activist Leader Has Passed Away From Covid-19 And Her Community Mourns A Great Loss

New York City has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and it has claimed a long list of victims. But one of the most high-profile losses has come this week as the city’s LGBTQ community mourns a major loss.

A pillar of New York City’s Latinx LGBTQ community, Borjas had long been known as a staunch defender of the rights of trans people, Latinx people, undocumented people and sex workers.

And now her beloved NYC LGBTQ community is mourning a huge loss during an already unprecedented crisis.

Beloved NYC transgender advocate Lorena Borjas has died after contracting Covid-19.

Borjas died on Monday, at Coney Island Hospital, in Brooklyn, of complications from Covid-19. Just a few weeks ago, Borjas set up a fund for trans-people who had lost their jobs to COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus.

She left an orphaned community of transgender women, especially Latina immigrant women in Queens, and countless LGBTQ-rights activists who looked to her for guidance, inspiration, and love.

“Lorena Borjas was a real hero for trans people, especially in Queens. She was a leader, a builder and a healer,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “The NCTE family is saddened by her passing and has her broad family and the Queens Latinx community in our hearts today.”

Activists and community leaders across New York City took to social media after the news of her death broke.

Adding an additional level of heartbreak, her memorial was hosted on digital meeting platform Zoom – a departure from her normal community building. More than 200 people attended the online memorial to share in her legacy of community-building, and joined together to take close, personal care of people across the community.

Originally from Mexico, Borjas has been called the mother of the transgender Latinx community in New York.

Credit: @NYCSpeakerCoJo / Twitter

At seventeen, she ran away to Mexico City, where she lived in the streets. At twenty, she crossed the border into the United States, where she hoped she would be able to receive hormone treatments. She made her way to New York City, where she studied for her GED and then studied accounting.

Lorena fought tirelessly for the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people, immigrant communities and sex workers. Lorena Borjas started a mutual aid fund for members of the transgender community who were suffering financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis.

Borjas had been a prominent community organizer and health educator for decades, working to end human trafficking, which she herself survived, according to the Transgender Law Center. In 2017, she received a rare pardon from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for a conviction she received in the 1990s while being trafficked, with Gov. Cuomo praising her advocacy work in New York state. (The conviction had put Borjas, a Mexican national, at high risk of deportation.)

An outpouring of grief came from all directions.

Credit: Cristina Herrera / Facebook

Her loss has inspired tributes from countless activists and leaders, including Rep.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and blogger Monica Roberts. “Lorena spent her life tirelessly fighting and supporting our trans sisters, making sure they were treated with dignity and respect they deserve,” Make the Road New York, an organization that fights for immigrant and working class communities, said in a statement. “We will truly miss her. May she rest in power and love.”

Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

Things That Matter

Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

COVID-19 is still a threat to the U.S. The country is experiencing a sudden spike two weeks after Americans defied social distancing rules and gathered in mass for Memorial Day. Latino households are experiencing a higher number of cases with severe symptoms and the rising cases are troubling the community.

Latino households are experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 cases.

A new analysis from USA Today found that Latino households are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms at higher rates. According to a study of more than 1.6 million people, Latinos, by and large, said they have experienced the symptoms tied to COVID-19. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, loss of taste, and coughing.

“Data is now emerging that matches the reality that we’re seeing,” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, deputy vice president of UnidosUS, told USA Today. “There are lots of factors at play, but among the biggest is the overrepresentation of Latinos in front-line jobs that don’t allow working from home.”

This a trend that health experts have seen within Latino communities in major cities.

Latino and Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. The communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus with death rates higher than the population statistics in various states. Fears of discrimination and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have prevented Latinos from seeking medical care long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center, told NBC News. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

These statistics come along the backdrop of Latinos facing the steepest financial and employment impact of any other group.

Latino households have faced the most job losses of any other demographic in the U.S. because of COVID-19. The job losses have compounded problems for the Latino community as DACA recipients and undocumented people are not eligible for federal government aid, despite paying billions in taxes.

According to Unidos US, 5.3 million out of 27.8 million Latinos in the U.S. are out of work giving Latinos the highest unemployment rate. Unemployment within the Latino community is 18.9 percent. The current national unemployment rate is 13.3 after the U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May as states reopen.

The current job numbers are being celebrated by the Trump administration as a signal that the pandemic economic toll is ending. However, the current unemployment rate is higher than any point since the Great Depression and most jobs added are part-time jobs. The large portion of part-time employment has left some skeptical about the stability of the economic recovery.

READ: Covid-19 Cases Surge In Meat-Processing Plants As COVID-19 Spreads In Rural America

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

Things That Matter

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

Kathleen Demayo / Getty Stock

A recent survey shows that thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute said their mental health had deteriorated as a result of doing so amid the coronavirus lockdown. As someone who has gone from working in a social, fun-filled, compassionate office space, I can consider myself part of that 35%.

Although working from home (for those privileged enough to do so) is a necessity for our safety and that of the community – it definitely presents some unique challenges.

Yes, the benefits are many: avoiding transit problems and the stress of commuting; sidestepping office politics; adopting a flexible schedule that allows for chores and errands to be incorporated into the work day; more time with family and pets; and a break on keeping up a business wardrobe and other appearance-related expenses.

But there’s a dark side. It’s an arrangement that fosters isolation and disconnection, two conditions that feed the greedy depression monster.

Here are some excellent tips for taking care of your mental health during these unprecedented times.

Break up your workday

Credit: youmatter / Instagram

Some common challenges when working from home during the pandemic is the lack of stimulation and connection to people you used to see regularly. This can become a bit confusing, so it’s great to try to break up the schedule.

One of the best tips for working from home that I’ve discovered is breaking up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk. I’m also a huge fan of taking a mid-afternoon break (longer than your typical 30-minute lunch break) to go on a long walk or run errands.

Get a routine and stick to it

Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing.

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours, and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner. 

When you do this regularly enough, it will feel more natural over time, and you won’t have to think about it so much. For me, this has meant taking my dogs out on a walk to get a coffee in the morning and then coming home and getting to work – it’s like creating my own little commute.

Stay connected

Credit: Unsplash

Remember to keep up with friends and family, even if that can only be done through a Zoom or FaceTime call. Text someone you care about, and when restrictions are lifted in your area, try to make plans as regularly as you feel comfortable.

Connection is key, and it can be challenging when you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time.

It’s also helpful to join platforms of people doing similar work as you and interacting with them throughout the day. Or you can join an online book club or participate in volunteer work – having this sort of obligation will go a long way in helping you show up when you don’t feel great.

Incorporate wellness activities into your day

Credit: BeLatina / Instagram

One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you get to do things you might not be able to if you’re in an office all day.

I’ve been doing 20 minute walks around my neighborhood while listening to music. This moves the energy in the body and allow us to to have a shift in consciousness, which is so important when you’ve been isolated in front of a computer screen.

Another way to experience new energy in the body is to pause from work, find a comfortable place to sit, and then do deep belly breaths. This involves taking one deep breath in, and then focus on the exhale. You’ll notice your shoulders will relax, and your body will feel lighter.

Learn how to detach

Credit: Unsplash

It’s so important when working from home that you keep your work and personal lives and actual physical areas totally separate. For many, it may not be possible to create an actual separate office space but you can create workspaces outside of your most “lived in” spaces. That’s what matters most.

There is a risk that working hours will get longer if the boundaries between work and personal life become blurred. It is necessary to establish a rigid system in which work can be carried out in a planned manner, such as by setting working hours and the timing of contact with supervisors.

No matter what you do, remember that working from home is yet another “new normal” to get used to — and the sooner you adapt to what makes you most productive, healthy, and mentally well, the better.