It’s a busy season for transgender advocates and allies with two main events planned in the coming days.
On Friday, Nov. 18, the Trans-Latina Coalition DMV will have its third annual day of action in Columbia Heights. Activists will gather at 5 p.m. at the Columbia Heights Metro Station plaza to address violence against trans women of color and demand “dignity, justice and safety.” Look for the group on Facebook for full details.
On Sunday, Nov. 20, Washington’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.), a joint effort of the Center for Black Equity, Empowering the Transgender Community, the D.C. Center, Whitman-Walker, HRC and more. Details at thedccenter.org.
Alexa Rodriguez works by day as a transgender program coordinator for La Clinica del Pueblo and is also the director of the Trans-Latina Coalition DMV. She came to the D.C. area in 2009 upon arriving in the U.S.
“As trans-Latinas and undocumented immigrants, we have more barriers,” Rodriguez says. “We’re a minority inside a minority and it’s time to demand justice, dignity and safety for all of us.”
Rodriguez, 40, lives in Hyattsville, Md., with her boyfriend, Pedro Gomez. She enjoys cooking, entertaining at home and walks with her partner and pets in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out as a trans woman for 12 years now and it was hard to tell or explain to my grandmother. She was old and Christian and she died last year after the Pride parade. It was a bittersweet moment for me as I had to travel to my home country for her funeral after being happy and feeling pride for who I am. I have been out as an HIV-positive person for 13 years now and I’m very proud to tell my story and teach about stigma and discrimination. It was hard to tell my family since the majority are Christians. One of my aunts said that because I’m transgender, I have a demon inside of me and I am HIV-positive because of my actions. That’s why I decide to not talk to them anymore until they understand that I am their family and I deserve respect as a human being.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Bamby Salcedo. She means a lot to me and has taught me a lot in the trans movement. Love her!
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Rumba Latina at Cobalt is the best Latinx party ever.
Describe your dream wedding.
My boyfriend and I have been talking about getting married and I want a big wedding with all my community and my all trans sisters as my maids of honor and all my LGBT family enjoying my big day. Lot of Latinx food and loud music.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Immigration and social justice in our Latinx community. There are a lot of amazing Latinx leaders in the U.S. but since they’re undocumented, they don’t have the opportunity to work. Since the election, our Latinx community has been facing racism, discrimination, self and social isolation because of the fear that was created by the elected president who won the elections with hate speech against undocumented and Latinx and other immigrants.
What historical outcome would you change?
This year’s election.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I believe we’re finally having more visibility on TV and magazines. This is our moment.
On what do you insist?
Better trans rights with health issues and homelessness. We need more resources and there should have been more trans provisions in Obamacare.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was an invitation to join us in the vigil this Friday, Nov. 18 to address the violence that continues to kill trans women of color.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“My Chosen Family”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would stay in my current identity and sexual orientation. I’m really happy the way I am and was born.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in a higher power.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
We need to work together, not compete.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
For my chosen family and the ones who don’t have a voice.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The assumption that if you’re trans, you must also be heterosexual.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Normal” with Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson, because it shows we can transition at any age and have supportive family.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
People who judge you before they know anything about you. There’s so much work to do in society.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I want to win the lottery and build shelters and opportunities for our trans community.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
The strength and power of my voice that I didn’t know I had.
It’s the capital where all the policies are created.