Social Issues

Trans Latinas in New York organize to defend their rights

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, Jun 26 (EFE).- TRANSgrediendo (“transgressing”) is an organization bringing together trans Latinas, some of them undocumented migrants, in the New York City borough of Queens to advocate for their and offer shelter to women who, like themselves, have been rejected by their communities.

“The collective helps connect the trans community with legal services and doctors,” Ecuador-born director Liaam Winslet says. “We work to shine a light on the human rights of migrants and tell the system that our voices and our lives are important. That the rights of  trans people are not negotiable, we cannot keep being ignored.”

The center is funded with private donations and employs eight part-time workers, including Salvadoran immigrant Suleica Urquilla, who answers the phone, and Nayra Berrios of Puerto Rico, busy on this occasion distributed food parcels to trans people in need.

Brightly colored walls, with a rainbow flag front and center at the reception, enclose TRANSgrediendo, founded in 2015 by Mexican trans activist Lorena Borjas, who died in March 2020 of Covid-19.

While alive, Borjas won recognition from prominent figures such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes the area of Queen where TRANSgrediendo is based.

And the founder is still very much present at the center. A portrait of Borjas hangs in Winslet’s office and a sketch of the founder adorns a wall in the meeting room, while awards she received line the halls.

“We receive private donations from people who see the work we do, people close to Lorena who see her legacy is far from gone. We are here, fighting, putting in practice what she taught us. We might not do it like she did, but we will try our best,” Winslet says.

During the pandemic, the association launched two programs to help trans women who lost their jobs.

One of them, Closet, provided free clothes to some 200 people, according to Winslet.

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