A new student group at City College, TransLatinas, aims to tackle homophobia in the Mission.
TransLatinas was formed to get more transgender people in school and to combat homophobia in the Latino community.

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Andrea Flores recalls getting stares and muffled comments by Latinos when she walked across the City College of San Francisco’s Mission campus.

“They would look at me and they would laugh,” said Flores, a shy, soft spoken, slim transgender woman with long flowing hair.

“They would say, ‘there goes a joto,” she added, describing the derogatory Spanish slang word used to describe a gay man.

Flores and her friend Juanita Martinez, who is also transgender, decided to combat the homophobia that exists in the immigrant Latino community with open discussions – ones they would have to create.

On Saturday, 28 people—the majority of them Latino and Spanish speaking—attended the second meeting of the TransLatinas, a new club at City College’s Mission campus.

“We’re a group of people who are constantly being attacked by the heterosexual community. I’m tired of it. The attacks I suffer are mostly from the Latino community here in the Mission,” said 47-year-old Brenda Oliveira, a native of Mexico.

The goal of the group is  two fold: to encourage transgender Latinas to take advantage of English, computer, or certificate programs at City College and to educate the straight Latino community about transgender and GLBT issues.

TransLatinas members vote on topics for next week’s meeting, health, sex education, and services were among the top picks.

“When you see a transgender person, don’t judge them. Get to know them. You’ll see we’re like everyone else. We’re nice people. We’re friendly,” said Martinez.

Transgender people often face barriers ranging from discrimination in obtaining employment to suffering violent attacks from strangers. This can even be more so in an isolated, Latino community.

Gamariel Hernandez, who is from Chiapas, a southern state in Mexico, described being hit by a gang member simply for being gay.

“This beautiful scar right here was thanks to a gang member,” he said pointing to a side of his face.

But things in Latin American appear to be changing.

Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have launched media campaigns against homophobia.

Last year, Mexico City’s legislature approved gay marriage—the first such law in Latin America. People can also adopt children and receive government benefits for couples under the new law.

“My respects go to the people in Mexico City because now gay people can marry,” said one attendee, who self-described as being “in the closet.”

Participants talked about how to regain self-esteem, how to handle negative comments, and where to seek help when they’ve been discriminated against.

They also talked about upcoming projects, including the participation in Miss TransLatina, a beauty pageant, and setting up skills workshops where one member leads a class on how to cut hair or do basic carpentry, for instance.

Flores said she left school at 15 because her classmates constantly badgered her. And she doesn’t want others to forgo an education because they feel isolated or rejected in school.

“I returned to school two years ago. I regret not having returned earlier,” Flores told the group. “You should not waste time. Take advantage of computer and English classes.”

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Rosa Ramirez grew up listening to stories about her father and uncles migrating from a small rural town in Mexico to work in the garment district in Los Angeles. Now, as a reporter for Mission Loc@l, Rosa enjoys telling the stories of immigrants from Latin America and other parts of the world who are making San Francisco their new home.
Her beat is San Francisco City College and higher education.
Before coming to UC Berkeley, Rosa worked for various news organizations across the country including Hispanic Link News Service, Birmingham Post-Herald, Rocky Mountain News and Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Rosa, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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  1. Thank you so much for support us and talk about our life style. me siento muy a gusto en el grupo porque alli uno se siente libre de expresar lo que uno siente con mucho respeto.

  2. Hola nuestro objetivo en este grupo es apoyar a la comunidad LGTB, y hacer talleres que nos ayuden a todos no importa la orientacion sexual, nuestro programa esta enfocado a la comundad transgenero pero tenemos el super apoyo de la comunidad gay, y creo que unidos vamos a seguir triunfando como hasta ahorita esperamos contar con el apoyo de todos y esperamos que nos viciten y poderles ayudar y que se vayan satisfechos con nuestros servicios.

  3. GLATINAS!1 Dejame te exlico, CCSF TRANSLATINAS es un grupo de apoyo para La Comunidad LGTB en ccsf Mission Campus.
    manejada por mujeres trangeneros y creada principalmente para las mujeres trangeneros. nustro objetivo no es hacer una diferencia en nadien nuestro objetivo es hacer una diferencia en notras mismas como grupo y si hacemos una diferencia entre nosotras, entonces podemos ayudar a otras chicas trans.
    Tenemos el apoyo de mucha jente de muchas agencias y sobre todo la comunidades LGB y eso es bueno, solo asi podemos crecer como grupo. y no quedar estancados como otros grupos
    GLATINAS! Let me explain you. TRASNLATINAS CCSF is a support group for the LGBT community in CCSF Mission Campus.
    and runing by transgender women and created primarily for transgender women. our goal is not to make a difference in anyone we want to make a difference in ourselves as a group and if we make a difference between us, then we can help other transgender girls.

    Enough stigmatized trangender womens as prostitutes.

  4. Thanks for your comments. If there are stories/topics you believe we should be covering or other gatherings that are happening in the Mission District/Bay Area, please send them my way: rosamramirez@hotmail.com



  5. this group is supposed for TGs but there are more gay boys than TGs, you guys need to go out and look for more people like all TG who are prostituting and really make a change for them, PLEASE not fill your mouths saying that you guys are making a difference.

  6. Transgender female living & working in Portland, OR, I am originally from San Francisco.

  7. If you are a human being, How can you possibly hate anyone? Rather than hate anyone, I think I would rather not live. Manuel