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Trevor Project launches crisis services for LGBTQ youth in Mexico

Nearly 30 percent of country’s community members have considered suicide

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(Screenshot from KPBS in San Diego)

Mateo seems to be an average adolescent guy, at least in outward appearances and love of football as soccer is known here. But he keeps a deeply personal part of himself, “mi verdadero yo” (my real self) away from even his closest friends and family instead only divesting himself of his protective cloak on his weekend forays into the Zona Rosa of Mexico City, a neighborhood that is center of LGBTQ life in the Mexican capital city about an hour and a half away from Tizayuca.

Mateo is gay and his family is homophobic as are many of his local friends and acquaintances in Tizayuca where he lives.

The stress and strain of being gay at times can be overwhelming he says although he can escape surreptitiously when he’s at home by binge watching LGBTQ content on Netflix and other platforms. Still Mateo says, there are those moments when he felt nothing but despair, helpless, and no one to talk to.

It was his journeys into the Zona Rosa neighborhood and his online LGBTQ friends on Instagram that saved him more than once in those bleak intervals. Still he says a way to connect with counselors is badly needed especially in places in his country that don’t have access for LGBTQ youth to a gayborhood and a support system of community.

For Mateo and countless other LGBTQ youth in the 32 states that make up Mexico not having a central safe space and people who understand changed as of Tuesday, on National Coming Out Day, the Trevor Project announced the official launch of its free, confidential, 24/7 digital crisis services for LGBTQ young people in the country.

For the first time in its 25 year history of service to LGBTQ youth, Trevor has expanded its crisis intervention services for LGBTQ youth outside of the U.S. According to official figures from the National Survey on Sexual and Gender Diversity (ENDISEG), 28.7 percent of the LGBTQ population in Mexico has thought about or attempted suicide in their lifetime, and as is the case in the U.S., suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in Mexico.

The Los Angeles Blade had an opportunity to speak with Jess Leslie, the head of International Digital Crisis Services for the Trevor Project. Leslie told the Blade that groundwork to build out the new Mexico City-based Trevor Project Mexico placed emphasis on cultural competency, recognition of the need for a integrated enterprise structure employed via SMS text messaging, WhatsApp, and online chat.

The approach to engagement with LGBTQ youth in the country Leslie said was a “whole of Mexico” team comprised of crisis counselors “coming from a cultural humble place.”

Leslie acknowledged that there are shortcomings in Internet communications access throughout Mexico as according to a 2021 study by Stanford University found that there were more than 90 million internet users, that is, approximately 71 percent of its inhabitants, yet access points were limited in the more rural states. But she pointed out that by setting up through the three primary means of communication, SMS text messaging, WhatsApp, and the online ‘Trevor chat” LGBTQ youth will have the means to communicate with counselors.

Offering a safe space and with a staff entirely of LGBTQ Mexicans led by Edurne Balmori, executive director of the Trevor Project Mexico, whose career resume noted numerous accolades and has a powerful track record in business, the 55 member in-country team which includes 35 experienced crisis counselors will be able to have positive impact Leslie noted.

She added the Trevor Project Mexico will rely on a volunteer-based model in which counselors will undergo extensive training and implement an evidence-based crisis support model.

“Emphasis is on cultural competency and understanding of the life experiences for the LGBTQ+ community and youth in Mexico,” Leslie added.

In a press release announcing the project on Tuesday, Balmori said;”Today we celebrate the activation of our services in Mexico, kicking off what we hope will be a global social movement around suicide prevention. For many LGBTQ youth in the country, expressing themselves and simply being who they are can put their physical safety and mental wellness at risk. At the Trevor Project Mexico, we will strive to end the stigma around the issue of mental health, provide LGBTQ youth with a safe and trusted space and ultimately save lives.”

“It’s incredibly inspiring to see our vision of providing life-affirming crisis services to LGBTQ young people beyond the U.S. being realized today with our launch in Mexico. This is a major milestone in our goal to end the global public health crisis of LGBTQ youth suicide,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project. “The Trevor Project is committed to building a world where every single LGBTQ young person has access to resources that affirm who they are, and we couldn’t be more optimistic about the impact we’ll have on this journey to support more LGBTQ young people around the world.”

Leslie tells the Blade, the most important thing is that LGBTQ youth are afforded the opportunity to have access to all the services that The Trevor Project has.

In the press release, Trevor noted that it is leveraging its relationships with several of its existing corporate and technology partners to enable and support this international work.

Of note, Google.org announced a renewed grant of $2 million this week, designed specifically to help scale up the Trevor Project’s life-saving work to new international geographies. This grant will make Google.org a lead funder of the organization’s international work.

In addition, the Trevor Project was able to build and customize its crisis services platform for Mexico using Twilio Flex.

In an interview last Spring with NBC News when Trevor executives first announced the expansion into Mexico, Cristian González Cabrera, who researches LGBTQ rights in Latin America for Human Rights Watch, said still “a lot to be done” and that the Trevor Project’s expansion in Mexico will be “very welcome.”

“Legal advances don’t always translate to social or lived progress for LGBTQ people in the region,” Cabrera said referring to the fact that same-sex marriage has been legalized in at least a dozen of Mexico’s 32 states. “Mexico remains a conservative country in certain aspects and regions, and LGBTQ people continue to experience all sorts of discrimination in all sectors of life, whether that’s education, health care, in the job market, etcetera.”

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Mexico

Claudia Sheinbaum elected Mexico’s first female president

LGBTQ officials throughout Latin America applaud historic milestone

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Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum (Photo via Claudia Sheinbaum's X page)

Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum on Sunday became the first woman elected president of Mexico.

Sheinbaum, a scientist who is a member of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s leftist Morena party, defeated Xóchitl Gálvez of the opposition National Action Party and Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the Citizens’ Movement. She will also be Mexico’s first Jewish president.

“Thank you to the people of Mexico,” said Sheinbaum on her X account. “This is your triumph, this June 2 we once again made history.”

Mexican voters elected Sheinbaum less than a year after Mexico City hosted an LGBTQ and intersex rights conference that the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute co-sponsored. The election also took place against the backdrop of rampant cartel violence in Michoacán and other Mexican states. 

Sheinbaum before the election released a policy paper that reiterated her support for LGBTQ rights in Mexico. The platform, among other things, reiterated “absolute respect for diverse gender identities” and pledged to create “public policies to (end impunity) and to eradicate hate crimes and violence against LGBTIQ+ communities because of gender and sexual orientation.”

“Without diversity, there is no democracy,” read the paper.

(Courtesy photo)

Mexican Congresswoman Salma Luévano, who is transgender, is among those who congratulated Sheinbaum. Claudia López, the former mayor of the Colombian capital of Bogotá who is a lesbian, in a post to her X account described Sheinbaum’s election as a “cultural and political transformation” for Mexico.

“Claudia Sheinbaum has on her shoulders the largest popular mandate in Mexican history and the necessary institutional equilibrium that depends so much on her talent and style of leadership,” said López. “I am sure that her human, professional, scientific training and her feminine empathy will allow her to honor history and her role in it.”

The Washington Blade will update this article.

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Mexico

Mexican Senate approves bill to ban conversion therapy

Measure passed by 77-4 vote margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Mexican Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy in the country.

Yaaj México, a Mexican LGBTQ rights group, on X noted the measure passed by a 77-4 vote margin with 15 abstentions.  The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Mexico’s congress, approved the bill last month that, among other things, would subject conversion therapy practitioners to between two and six years in prison and fines.

The Senate on its X account described conversion therapy as “practices that have incentivized the violation of human rights of the LGBTTTIQ+ community.”

“The Senate moved (to) sanction therapies that impede or annul a person’s orientation or gender identity,” it said. “There are aggravating factors when the practices are done to minors, older adults and people with disabilities.”

Mexico City and the states of Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Jalisco and Sonora are among the Mexican jurisdictions that have banned the discredited practice. 

The Senate in 2022 passed a conversion therapy ban bill, but the House of Deputies did not approve it. It is not immediately clear whether President Andrés Manuel López Obrador supports the ban.

Canada, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, France, and New Zealand are among the countries that ban conversion therapy. Virginia, California, and D.C. are among the U.S. jurisdictions that prohibit the practice for minors.  

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Mexico

Transfeminicide violence in Mexico: At least five trans women killed in first two weeks of 2024

Activists have criticized public officials over hate speech

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(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

A Spanish version of this article can be found here.

Gaby Ortiz, renowned trans stylist in Hidalgo, an unidentified trans woman in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Vanesa, trans woman in Coatzacoalcos, Miriam Ríos activist and trans commissioner of the Movimiento Ciudadano political party in Michoacán, and Samantha Fonseca, a trans activist and human rights defender in Mexico City, have been murdered in the first 15 days of the year.

People belonging to LGBTTTIQ+ groups protested outside the National Palace against the escalation of violence against trans people and hate crimes.

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

Victoria Sámano, a trans activist, denounced the hate speeches of leaders, officials and public representatives targeting trans people and urged the president to condemn this violence.

“We demand that, in your capacity as representative of this country, you take a stand against the violence that trans people experience.” – Victoria Sámano, trans activist and founder of LLECA (Listening to the Street)

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

The National Observatory of Hate Crimes against LGBTQI+ People defines hate crimes as culturally founded and systematically and socially widespread behaviors of contempt against a person or group of people based on negative prejudice or stigma related to an undeserved disadvantage, and which has the effect of harming your fundamental rights and freedoms, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

“We are not only demonstrating for these deaths, we also demand that the Comprehensive Trans Law be approved as a matter of urgency, which seeks to influence education, housing, health and work for trans people. We demand that all these legislative initiatives that favor people of sexual diversity be unblocked. And that Morena, even though the majority in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, have remained silent, they have not done anything, they do not have a clear position against violence towards LGBTTTIQ+ people … even when they have boasted of being a left-wing and progressive party throughout the 6-year period and that they support vulnerable populations.” – Victoria Sámano, trans activist and founder of LLECA (Listening to the Street) 

(Photo by Haarón Álvarez/New Gay Times)

This wave of transfemicides occurs in a context of escalating violence and attacks against LGBTTTIQ+ people, including activist and public figures such as Nicté Chávez or Paola Suárez, and the proliferation of hate speech against trans women and LGBTTTIQ+ people by public officials. According to data from Letra Ese, in 2023 there were 58 murders of LGBTTTIQ+ people, 35 were trans women.

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