Transgenero 2000 Celebrates 17th Birthday
This month, San Diego’s Spanish-language transgender group Transgenero 2000 celebrates seventeen years of education, advocacy, community activities, and support to those in need.
Their facebook page spells out their mission: “Serving our LGBT Latin community since 2000 in the fight to educate our own community to achieve justice and dignity in our society”. Its origins date back to the 1990’s, when transgender latino/as in San Diego found a gathering point at Christie’s Place, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS social service organization. Because this was then one of the few Spanish-speaking support groups, even transpeople who were not HIV positive attended. Community health professional Terry Albritton had facilitated several hispanic HIV groups, but saw the need for a more general transgender organization. She spearheaded the founding of Transgenero 2000 in that same year. The organization found a home at the LGBT center in Hillcrest four years later, and has been going strong ever since.
Everyone is welcome at their twice monthly meetings: all transpeople, their families, friends and community allies. Guest ages have ranged from ages 8 to 80’s. Yes, that’s right. Eight-year-old transgirl Mati Mereles attended with her parents, and Eighty-something year old Don Ponchito whose daughter is a transwoman also attends . Although many members of the group are from Mexico, there have been attendees from a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean including Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
Sandra Ramirez and Lizbet Pineda are the group’s current coordinators. A significant part of Transgenero 2000’s work is giving transpeople a caring and supportive place to voice their feelings. Many attendees have experienced family rejection. Others have faced frequent street harassment, and violence including assault and body mutilation. And still others have spoken of unpleasant past experiences with some of Mexico’s authorities, including intimidation and false arrest. For these individuals, the first step is having the catharsis of a shoulder to cry on. They then find validation through the support of other transpeople. After that comes empowerment. And finally, many become activists working for and with the larger transcommunity.
Transgenero 2000 has hosted many speakers on trans-relevant issues at their meetings. Topics have included personal safety, hormone therapy, psychological counseling, and HIV prevention and management. However, the Hispanic transcommunity’s most pressing concern is immigration issues. Transgenero 2000 has helped its members in this matter through contacts with the Kraus Law Corporation immigration attorneys, as well as the Casa Cornelia Law Center (a public interest law firm providing services to victims of human and civil rights violations).
Outside of their semi-monthly meetings, the organization has been active in many community and cultural events as well. They have raised funds for Tijuana’s Las Memorias HIV/AIDS housing/ treatment/social services center, and the Eunime orphanage for child HIV victims. In 2014, they participated in SDSU’S Center for Latin American Studies colloquium “From the Fringes to the Front Line”, an event focusing on issues of the transgender communities in the US-Mexico border region. At the LGBT Center, they have sponsored Noches Mexicanos (Mexican Night music and food event) and Pachanga for Frida (party to commemorate famed painter Frida Kahlo, an icon of the Hispanic and LGBT community). Perhaps their most vibrant and remembered events are their periodic artist performance fundraiser shows at the Brass Rail and Numbers.
Transgenero 2000 adds a lot to San Diego’s LGBT community. They enrich our culture with new celebrations, music, dance and foods. They build a bridge to neighbor republics to the south. This is, needless to say, now more important than ever. And finally, they remind everyone that the LGBT experience knows no borders. It’s a world experience.
Transgenero 2000 meets on the first and last Friday of the month from 6-8 pm at Hillcrest’s LGBT center (3909 Centre Street). For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/Grupo-Transgenero-2000-242991252466057/ See also http://www.thecentersd.org/programs/latino-services/latin-services-brochure-2014.pdf