by Abaki Beck
Our Feminist Hero Friday this week is Bamby Salcedo, a trans Latina activist, health worker, and prominent speaker on trans immigrant rights. Salcedo was raised by her mother in Guadalajara, Mexico, and says that as a child, she fell into cycles of drug abuse and life on the streets. Upon immigrating to the U.S., she continued to combat street violence and became incarcerated. After receiving drug treatment, she dedicated her life to serving others, as others had served her in her time of deep need. A strong activist for trans issues, immigration issues, youth issues, and HIV related issues, she has since founded several organizations with an effort to build community and support for those most marginalized.
Salcedo founded TransLatin@ Coalition in 2009, a Los Angeles-based organization that works to empower trans leaders across the nation through education and resources. The mission of this organization is unique and admirable in that it not only advocates for issues impacting trans latinx people (including community and economic development), but provides leadership development and professional support for trans Latinx individuals. Indeed, it is an organization very intentionally run by and for trans Latinx people.
In addition to her work with the TransLatin@ Coalition, Salcedo is a community organizer and former health education worker. For eight years, she worked for the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles doing HIV education and prevention. While at the Children’s Hospital, she produced the Angels of Change runway show and calendar, a program that supported the self-expression and self-esteem for trans and gender non-conforming youth. In 2015, Salcedo led a group of over one hundred humans rights activists to interrupt the opening session of the National LGBTQ Task Force in protest violence against transgender people, following the murders of several trans people in Los Angeles.
Recently, the TransLatin@ Coalition published a report titled TransVisible: Transgender Latina Immigrants in U.S. Society, of which Salcedo was a co-investigator. The goal of the report was to educate stakeholders on the barriers faced by trans Latina immigrants, from policymakers to educators to trans people themselves. In addition, it was written to confront the lack of “hard data” about the experiences of trans Latina immigrants. The report explores reasons why trans Latina women migrate, as well as difficulties they face in the United States, including access to housing, job security, U.S. documents, and violence. The report notes:
“Trans Latina Immigrants are rarely asked about their migration stories. Most immigration policy makers, employers, and social service providers ignore the reasons that propel Trans people to migrate to the U.S. Ignorance regarding their migration stories is dangerous because it creates a culture where fear and hatred of Trans Immigrants is justified at the individual and structural level. This form of ignorance promotes a society where cisgender people, and U.S. citizens in particular, learn to feel superior and more entitled to life than Immigrants and gender non-conforming people of color. In turn, Trans Immigrants are often denied opportunities that are regularly extended to cisgender people and are often enduring multiple forms of interpersonal and institutional Transphobia, Transmisogyny, and racism.”
You can read the full report here. In a time when violence against trans people, particularly trans women of color, is so prevalent and often ignored by mass media, these sorts of reports are critical. It is even more significant coming from the trans POC community itself. Salcedo’s work to empower trans Latinx people is both critical and inspirational. Today, we celebrate her as an activist, community maker, agitator, and powerful voice of change.