— As told to Pedro Soto
MARCH 2007 • Issue 3
My name is Amanda Paez. I’m a Latina transgender from Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. In this letter, I would like to tell you the history of the kind of lifestyle that we have to live because our society doesn’t allow us to be something in their life or workplaces.
The life of our community is terrible, because the only options that people give to us are to be a prostitute, drug dealer, hairdresser, cook, or in show business. Our community is marginalized and discriminated against by all people because of our desire to live a different kind of life. People don’t understand. They want us to be what they want us to be—and it’s not fair. We can make our own decision. We are human beings and we live in the same world, we have the same blood. We are not Martians or devils. We only want an opportunity to show people our skills and imagination, to get responsibilities, and make things better. Family and society don’t understand us; they think that we are crazy.
We transgenders suffer a lot of discrimination and hate from homophobic people who sometimes hit us or kill us. Society is cruel to us—we have to fight for our rights. Sometimes we win, but almost all the time, we lose. It is hard to be someone in this society if you are a transgender and Latina. Thanks to Bienestar, I am working, making a difference, and I have my right to be someone now. I would like to be a good leader for my community. That community is Transgeneros Unidas—the famous “DIVAS.”
Amanda Paez, 45, is a health educator, counselor, and activist with Transgéneros Unidas and DIVAS at Bienestar, a grassroots, nonprofit provider of HIV/AIDS services for the Latino community and other under-served communities in Los Angeles.