I was raised in the San Fernando Valley in a mixed-status immigrant family. Being that some of us had citizenship and others did not, it proved to be a peculiar situation for my mother, two older sisters, and I. At 22 years old, my mother broke the Mexican and U.S. border in half escaping domestic violence and third-world conditions. When I turned 22 I dropped out of university the last quarter of senior year because I could not bare the weight of graduation day knowing my family became homeless. I will forever be from North Hollywood, CA, but from one day to the next my family was fragmented and my sense of community politicized.
I joined Public Allies to learn what building community looks like beyond the ivory tower, but unintentionally found a cohort full of incredible talent. In a training our director once stated, “Whether you know it or not, you came to Public Allies to heal.” Here, I was challenged to be real about where I am, to seed, nurture, and transform the context of a very personal despair: the reality of being gender nonconforming and a mixed-status family member in the face of an anti-trans and anti-immigrant national climate. Organizing collective healing and transformation of both undocumented and queer/trans communities is a space I draw power from. In my most darkest times I learned to be held by a community of people willing to support my family and I in a world where individual security trumps communal responsibility.
However, in June 12th, 2016 this country saw a horrific massacre of queer/trans Latinx people of color in Orlando, Florida leaving 50 dead and 53 injured. While the media speculates whether or not Mateen was actually gay, use his ethnicity to incite an agenda against muslim people, completely overlook his history of domestic violence or aspirations of becoming a police officer – what becomes displaced are the lived experience of my people. Mothers who will learn their children are queer/trans the day they are murdered, victims with no family members and/or citizenship to have their bodies claimed. Uplifting queer/trans people of color through writing, ancestral memory, collective healing, and policy is where I see myself in the future. In the wake of instances like this I hope people realize how much violence is normalized and expected when you’re an unapologetic gender nonconforming hood fag like me.
Ultimately, I seek to effectively nurture and sustain the personal and professional development of people because I understand the art of holding space for another to be a practice I like to learn from this second year around. Although I understand I can never save someone else, I saw as a first year how we can empower one another to have us help ourselves. After the program, I wish to finish my undergraduate career, begin my transition from Jason to Yaneli, and pursue work in mental health, art, and law one small step at a time.