Things That Matter

While Trans Women Die In Detention Centers, Bamby Salcedo Fights For Her Community With A Determination We Rarely See These Days

@atribecalledqueer / Twitter

Prepare yourself to get familiar with an icon in the making. Bamby Salcedo was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico by a single working mother who tried to protect her daughter from hate. She couldn’t.

Salcedo doesn’t consider herself a victim. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, of drug addiction, of homelessness, of persecution for sex work, of the U.S. prison system. Salcedo has survived a transphobic society and considers it a privilege to work tirelessly for trans rights in an uphill battle with ICE.

Bamby Salcedo is leading the initiative to grant equal rights to detained trans women.

Untitled. Digital Image. Bamby Salcedo. 12 June 2019.

Yet, she tells Latina that she’s “just a pawn in the game.” It’s humbling to learn that Salcedo, often referred to as “La Bamby”, said, “I’m just a piece of the puzzle in the fight for trans rights, especially for trans Latina immigrants.”

La Bamby’s experience of overcoming homelessness, of being imprisoned and addiction has fueled her fire to help others.

@latinxbeauty_ / Twitter

“In my case, being homeless, having to participate in the street economy to survive, being imprisoned, being a drug addict, all of those things I faced,” were all drivers to her activism, she tells Latina. “Then, once I had the privilege and opportunity to change my life, it was me seeing my friends and those close to me that I love to continue to experience these things. A combination of both has driven me to stand up and do something about it.”

La Bamby has become an icon in her own right.

@atribecalledqueer / Twitter

This fan’s artwork depicts her as a blossoming flower, with a halo of tropical flowers. She maintains that while she knows she’s the most recognizable voice of trans Latina immigrants, she shouldn’t be.

“I am very privileged and lucky to be one of the people who gets highlighted often,” she tells Latina. “But more and more trans women immigrants, Latinas, are doing so, too, and I hope seeing me out there is encouraging for them. Sharing one’s story is a truth, and it’s impactful because it helps people understand our issues.”

Bamby’s activism led her to create the TransLatin@ Coalition in 2009.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

Bamby saw a gap in attention for the trans communities. National, trans-led organizations weren’t addressing the issues of Latina immigrants, so she did something about it.

Remember when this flag dropped at the 2018 World Series?

@labamby / Instagram

That was all TransLatin@ Coalition. “I felt my heart was dropping along with it,” she told Huffington Post. “I was kind of exploding because of the adrenaline. You don’t know what’s going to happen with the police and security and all of that.” FOX didn’t air the flag on national television, and the flag waved for a few minutes before they were escorted out.

Last year, TransLatin@ Coalition gifted LA this performance statement during the Pride parade.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“PRIDE has historically been a protest, not a parade,” @translatinacoalition captions. “And it will continue to be a protest so long as our communities are still suffering from corrupt systems. Let us celebrate our beauty but also acknowledge there is work still to be done! There is no liberation without liberation for all. ‘HOW MANY OF US HAVE TO DIE FOR YOU TO GET INVOLVED?'”

This year, it was censored for calling out the abuse trans women face in ICE detention centers by name.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“We marched in pride yesterday and brought attention to the state and governmental violence our community continues to face,” the organization posted. “We were censored by both LAPride and ABC7. We were told to put our signs away. Told that we should be celebrating. Pride reminded us that there is so much to be done, even within our own community. But we won’t stop bringing attention to the injustices our community is facing. Okay! #FREEALEJANDRA #JohanaMedina”

Currently, TransLatin@ Coalition is focused on freeing Alejandra Barrera, a trans woman held by ICE since November 2017.

@sonsandbros / Twitter

The campaign petition has received over 26,000 signatures, urging the U.S. government to release Barrera on parole until her next asylum court date. The longer she stays in the detention facility, the higher the risk for sexual abuse and negligent medical care.

TransLatin@ Coalition implements grassroots efforts to gain media coverage for the causes.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“Alejandra’s application for a stay of removal was denied for the 5th time with no valid arguments,” TransLatin@ Coalition writes on Instagram as an update to the #FreeAlejandra press conference post. “She can be deported anytime within the next couple of days. We need you all to help us to put pressure on Congress to intervene and stop ICE from potentially sending Alejandra to her death.”

We are in the midst of a week-long campaign to #FreeAlejandra.

@TransLatina_C / Twitter

If Alejandra is deported, she will inevitably be murdered. TransLatin@ Coalition describes Alejandra as “a transgender Latina immigrant who was forced to flee El Salvador due to discrimination and violence, her home country in which she has spent years fighting for respect and dignity of transgender people.”

Before founding TransLatin@ Coalition, she was the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

@NationalNOW / Twitter

Needless to say, Bamby’s life mission has been to provide services to the trans community. She quit her job in 2015 to focus on trans immigrants full time.

Since then, she’s spoken at The White House and helped organize #FamiliesBelongTogether protests.

@labamby / Instagram

Bamby sees her activism as a privilege. She sees her shift in circumstances from homelessness and sex work as a privilege. That’s because, for trans women, it is a privilege when it should be an inherent right.

The issues facing trans women are nuanced and debilitating.

@prideportraits / Instagram

Trans women who flee their countries for fear of violence come to the U.S. for safety. “But things are bad here, too,” she tells Latina. “And we have to resort to the street economy, whether drugs or prostitution, to survive. Then we risk being arrested and turned into ICE, where we are detained and possibly deported. Immigration is one of the main issues impacting us, but it’s also not the only one, and I don’t want to forget that.”

La Bamby is here to fight for all women.

@labamby / Instagram

She celebrated Latina Equal Pay Day like most of our favorite feministas–with a solidarity post that read, “Today is #LatinaEqualPayDay, marking the 10 extra months Latinas must work to make the same amount white men earned last year. The gender pay gap is greatest for Latinas, who get only 54 cents for every $1 a white man makes. This is an injustice. Soy una mujer fenomenal — and I deserve the entire dollar! We’re not 54% phenomenal. We bring 100% every day & it’s time we make 100%.”

She just might be the Selfie Queen.

@labamby / Instagram

Her personal Instagram feed is a fabulous stream of selfies. Most of the captions describe what event she is going to, like this one: “On my way to bring my #TransLatinaPower to #northcarolina#deepsouth I’m going deep!! #freealejandra”

She also seems to have a healthy sense of humor.

@labamby / Instagram

This classic Strategy Selfie is captioned, “Que disque high class … #transocupayingspace con @life_as_a_queen” 😂

And she’ll take every single opportunity to talk about the cause.

@labamby / Instagram

La Bamby ran into John Legend and California’s Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris and took the opportunity to “bring your #TransLatinaPower to highlight #transissues.” 👑👑👑

Unsurprisingly, her story has been captured in documentary format for your leisurely viewing.

@NewVoicesPgh / Twitter

Peruvian Director Dante Alencastre gifted the world “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story” and the world noticed. The film has received Long Beach’s QFilm Festival “Best Documentary” award.

There’s no question: Bamby Salcedo is the revolutionary that will push trans rights to the next level.

@TransEquality / Twitter

To do that, she’s going deep into the murky systems of ICE and making sure to keep every detained trans woman accountable. Nobody else is doing it.

READ: Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Things That Matter

An Oakland Raiders Game Was Raided By ICE And A Community Is Left Wondering Where Is Next

Outside of a school or courthouse. A place of business such as a meat factory plant. A traffic stop. Outside your home. What do all of these locations have in common? These are all place where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have shown up to detain, roundup, and arrest undocumented people. They can also show up just about anywhere, even sports games. 

On the first day of the Raiders season —during a game against the Denver Broncos — the real commotion wasn’t on the football but rather outside in the parking lot where ICE showed up. 

Credit: Instagram/@raiders

On Sept. 9, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, ICE was there to seize unofficial Raiders merchandise. It’s unclear if they were there looking for undocumented people, or whether they believed the vendors of the unofficial Raiders merchandise were undocumented people. Either way, ICE agents took all of the fake swag. 

ICE reports they seized $11,000 worth of counterfeit goods. ICE also claims that last week’s seizure is part of a nationwide trend of illegal merchandise that generates $1.4 billion a year. 

Credit: Instagram/@itstartedinoaklandbaby

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco is committed to conducting intellectual property theft investigations throughout the year and preventing the sale of counterfeit goods during the home opener of the Oakland Raiders is just one example of HSI working to ensure that the public is purchasing legitimate products” Tatum King, special agent in charge, HSI San Francisco and Northern California, said in a press release statement. King added, “The lost revenue equals lost jobs and counterfeit materials typically contain substandard products and can also be a safety risk to the public.”

Here’s what ICE said you should look for when purchasing your Raiders gear: 

Credit: Instagram/@BzioaFenxn3

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Buy tickets from authorized dealers
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point.

“Oakland Raiders fans attending the first game of the season deserve genuine products and the proceeds of counterfeit merchandise ends up in the hands of transnational criminal organizations engaged in varying types of illegal activities,” King stated. King didn’t elaborate or give evidence as to the type of criminal organizations they have arrested in the past. 

People on social media were not pleased to hear that ICE attended an NFL game during the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month.

It is definitely clear that ICE wanted to show their presence at an NFL game especially when an overwhelming amount of Latinx were expected to show up. 

This is not the first time ICE and the NFL have partnered up. ICE has paid for commercials during the Super Bowl games.

It’s not clear whether these campaigns launched by ICE — that included the hashtag #TackleICE — but it’s not so much about whether something works or doesn’t. ICE wants to get their message across that they are everywhere, and there’s no denying that. 

Some on social media some wondered now that Jay Z is an official NFL employee whether he will speak up against ICE and about how they’re targeting Latinos. 

Last month, the NFL announced that they “formally launched the Inspire Change initiative in early 2019, after more than two years of work with NFL players, with the goal of creating positive change in communities across the country.” The NFL added, “Through this initiative, NFL teams and the league office work with the Players Coalition and other NFL players to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity, with a focus on three priority areas: education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay Z said in a press release. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

Do these communities include undocumented immigrants? 

We will have to wait and see how Jay’s involvement will help the Latino community, especially as the NFL is clearly targeting them. 

ICE also failed to disclose why they were targeting illegal merchandise since that doesn’t seem to all under the umbrella of immigration. Also, if ICE is showing up at games, you know they will definitely be attending the Dodgers games as well. Just for a heads up, here’s the entire Raiders season schedule 

READ: ICE Had A Super Bowl Campaign But Immigrant Advocates Clapped Back With #TackleICE

Amelio Robles Ávila Was Mexico’s First Trans Soldier And A Revolutionary Hero, More Than 100 Years Ago

Culture

Amelio Robles Ávila Was Mexico’s First Trans Soldier And A Revolutionary Hero, More Than 100 Years Ago

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day! After a war that lasted over 11 years, Mexico achieved independence from Spanish rule and would begin a path toward self-determination. On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launched the Mexican War of Independence. Yes, decolonize! 

To celebrate Mexican history, we’ll be focusing on one hero today, not of the Mexican War of Independence but of the Mexican Revolution. Colonel Amelio Robles Ávila is recognized as the first trans soldier in the Mexican military’s history. A decorated colonel, Ávila lived as a man from the age of roughly 22 or 24 until the day he died at 95 years old. 

While some believe it was Ávila’s wealthy family that allowed him to live life as his truest self, it certainly may have helped, but his courage in battle and in life must be honored and celebrated. Ávila’s identity was not always met with kindness, but the soldier was well-equipped to deal with challenges to his gender. The pistol-whipping colonel was a ladies man, skilled marksmen, and hero. This is the story of Colonel Amelio Robles Ávila. 

Amelio Robles Ávila

Amelio Robles Ávila was born to a wealthy family on November 3, 1889, in Xochipala, Guerrero. In his youth, Ávila attended a Catholic school for little girls where he was taught to cook, clean, and sew. However, at a young age, he began to express his gender identity. He showed an aptitude for things that were, at the time perceived to be, masculine like handling weapons, taming horses, and marksmanship. 

Perhaps, it was a natural response, if not the only response, to being pressured to conform to a gender identity that isn’t yours —  Ávila was perceived as stubborn, rebellious, and too much to handle for the school nuns. But it would be his tenacity and obstinance that served him in the long run. 

In 1911, when Ávila was arranged to be married to a man, he enlisted as a revolutionary instead. 

Not a woman dressed as a man, just a man.

To force the resignation of President Porfirio Dîaz and later, to ensure a social justice-centered government, Mexico needed to engage much of its population in warfare. This meant that eventually women were welcomed with many limitations. Soldaderas were able to tend to wounded soldiers or provide food for the militia but were prohibited from combat and could not have official titles. 

Ávila legally changed his first name from Amelia to Amelio, cut his hair, and became one of Mexico’s most valuable and regarded revolutionaries. 

“To appear physically male, Robles Ávila deliberately chose shirts with large chest pockets, common in rural areas, and assumed the mannerisms common among men at the time,” according to History.com

While he was not the only person assigned female to adopt a male persona to join the war, unlike many others Ávila kept his name and lived as a man until the day he died. 

“After the war was over, their part in it was dissolved along with whatever rank they held during the fight, and they were expected to return to subservient roles. Some did,” writes Alex Velasquez of Into. “Others, like Amelio Robles Ávila, lived the rest of their lives under the male identities they had adopted during the war.”

You come at the king, you best not miss.

Ávila fought courageously in the war until its end. Becoming a Colonel with his own command, he was decorated with three stars by revolutionary general Emiliano Zapata. He led and won multiple pivotal battles where his identity and contributions were respected. 

However, that respect was sometimes earned through empathy other times through the whip of his pistol. Ávila was a man and anyone who chose to ignore this fact would be taught by force. On one occasion, when a group of men tried to “expose” him by tearing off his clothes, Ávila shot and killed two of the men in self-defense. 

Colonel Amelio Robles Ávila

Unsurprisingly, Ávila was a bit of a ladies man, though he finally settled down with Angela Torres and together they adopted their daughter Regula Robles Torres. In 1970, he was recognized by the Mexican Secretary of National Defense as a veterano as opposed to a veterana of the Mexican Revolution, thus Colonel Amelio Robles Ávila is considered the first trans soldier documented in Mexican military history. The swag is infinite! 

After the war, Ávila was able to live comfortably as a man where he devoted his life to agriculture. He lived a life, that still for so many trans people around the world seems unfathomable. Colonel Ávila lived to be 95 years old and the rest  — no all of it — is history.