Many years ago, Bamby Salcedo was teaching Spanish-speaking transgender women about HIV prevention at Beinestar Health Services in East LA, information she’d learned from her friend and mentor, Maria Roman. But a big heart and dedication to her trans sisters led Salcedo to earn more, get more experience with eight years at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles coordinating services for trans youth, and become a nationally renowned leader as founder and president of the TransLatin@ Coalition.
On Jan. 19, activist Salcedo took the stage at the massive Women’s March in Washington DC and introduced TransLatin@ Coalition to the world through C-SPAN. This year marks the organization’s 10th anniversary.
“Today, trans women get to be visible to the whole world. We get to raise our voice and proudly say that trans women are women. Period! Nobody—not the government, not individuals, not companies or individuals— get to dictate who we are as individuals,” Salcedo told the world. “As a community and as a movement we will define ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Maria Roman, who co-founded TransLatin@ Coalition and took the Women’s March stage with Salcedo, is getting married in March at St John’s Cathedral—the first trans woman to be married there in the church’s 100-year history.
Roman and her musician/artist fiancé Jason Taylorson have been documenting their love story and have created a GoFundMe account to complete their documentary TransTALE. It shows “their journey to finding love against societal bias standards that continue to shame Cis/Hetero/Men who are attracted and in love with Trans women,” Roman says on Facebook. “Maria and Jason’s goal is that their story will inspire other individuals within the Trans spectrum to follow their hearts, spirits and be guided by the resiliency of living authentically.”
In addition to their visible activism and annual GARRAS Fashion Show, TransLatin@ Coalition has worked hard on developing policy and political strategies. For instance, organization leaders have been keeping tabs on newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, awaiting his specific commitment to trans people.
“Thus far, he’s made claims about ending private prisons, protecting immigrant families and continuing strides in reforming the unjust prison system to end overcrowded prisons, but little to no mention has been made about how he plans to address the unjust conditions TGI people are facing daily in California and throughout the country,” Policy Strategist and Organizer Michaé Pulido wrote in their new monthly newsletter. The organization plans to do their own analysis of Newsom’s proposed budget and provide specific recommendations.
TransLatin@ Coalition also continues to align with other social justice and activist organizations. For instance, they participated in the JusticeLA coalition’s #CareNotCages rally opposing the construction of a $3.5 million Women’s Jail in Mira Loma.
“LA County does not need new jail construction. Through diversion, decriminalization, bail reform, and investment in community-based resources, the county can successfully lower its jailed population size. Jails and prisons are unsafe facilities for our people, especially because of the bias-based profiling and policing practices utilized by law enforcement against trans and GNC people,” Pulido wrote in the newsletter.
“[H]ousing placements for trans and GNC people are based on genitalia, leading many trans women to be housed in men’s facilities and putting us at risk for abuse, harassment, and mistreatment,” she wrote. “We advocate for community-based rehabilitation and demand that this 3.5 billion dollar funding be utilized in ways that help our communities, rather than further incarcerate them.”
There is another rally on Feb. 12 at 10:00am, the day the LA County Board of Supervisors plans to re-open discussions about the jail.
The next day, on Feb. 13, Salcedo and the TransLatin@ Coalition will launch their Trans Policy Agenda. The report has been in development for over six months, collecting surveys and community input to identify urgent issues, present specify demands and outline policy solutions to real life issues impacting the trans, gender-non-conforming, and intersex communities nationwide.
“It is important that we as Trans people build our political incidence. The #TransPolicyAgenda is a road map for us to understand what needs to be done for us to change the landscape of the livelihood of Trans people,” Salcedo tells the Los Angeles Blade.
“No other Trans-led organization in the nation has launched a policy agenda. We are very proud that as an organization, we continue to pioneer some of the work that needs to be done on behalf of our people,” she says. “The collaboration between our community and the young beautiful people who invested their time and their talent in to putting this document together, and the work that needs to be done in collaboration with our elected officials after the #TransPolicyAgenda is released, is what will create the changes that will mark history for our people to be dignified in our society.”
The public is invited to the release reception at The California Endowment, located on 1000 Alameda St., Los Angeles. For questions, contact Michaé Pulido at email@example.com.