STREETS: More on transgender style and Latinas

I love my job. Yesterday I was talking with Brenda Gonzalez, a transgender woman from the state of Michoacan, who works in Hollywood. I’d gone to her nonprofit service agency because they host a meeting of Latina transgender women every Wednesday.

Anyway, we were talking more about the case of the transgender woman, Nathan Vickers (or Cassidy, or Chassidy), who was murdered in November and again the topic turned to how Latina immigrants, mostly from Mexico, had changed transgender culture.

As I’ve written here in an earlier post, Latinas dove into surgery in a big way. Part of it, Brenda told me, was due to the fact that they were illegal and had no work and street was all that was available and guys with large breasts, high cheeks, round buttocks made more money. It was also because many came looking for a transformation that was denied them in Mexico — much like other immigrants, from small, benighted villages.

“Part of the transition is transforming yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. You have to be beautiful, up to date, you have to look beautiful, sexy, voluptuous,” she told me.

But with so many girls in the same situation, all competing on the street, “part of the competition becomes obsession. You see some little Lupita on the corner with a new nose, then you want one. If she gets a nice bust, you want one, and now not just size 40, but 44dd.”

Plus, their world is very small, she said. “I live in East LA but I hear when someone in Hollywood gets an operation. If I live in Hollywood, I hear when someone Long Beach gets operated or someone in Van Nuys gets a sex change.” So that adds to the demand for surgery.

Most important are breast implants. Breasts being the most obvious sign of being female, implants are the transgender’s American Dream, Brenda said.

“Part of the transition and acceptance and feeling happy and content with ourselves, what makes us feel even more secure and more like women, is when we have breast augmentation. It’s why most of us have our breast surgery. Some view it from the sex market: There’s more demand for those who have them, and then you can then get more surgery and send money home to mom and dad. It’s a fundamental part of the transition that make you feel secure are implants, breast surgery that gives you a large and beautiful bust. It’s part of your own feeling of security. It’s essential.”

Man, you just don’t hear this kind of stuff that often.

Sorry no photos from the interview. So here (above) are a few when I lived with the girls in Mazatlan as they prepared for what was then the oldest gay beauty contest in Mexico (from my first book), including one who is getting her breasts injected with baby oil, which was the only method they could afford on the money they made hooking down in Mazatlan.




Filed under Los Angeles, Mexico, Migrants, Streets

5 Responses to STREETS: More on transgender style and Latinas

  1. Pingback: What the hell you know about the 740? | True Tales: a Reporter's BlogTrue Tales: a Reporter's Blog

  2. Tina G.

    As someone who has admired your reporting over the years, I find it highly unfortunate that you focus on the more lurid aspects of a serious issue, and that even the angle you choose is of dubious taste. The medical condition known by professionals as Gender Dysphoria usually requires careful medical attention (for hormones and/or surgery). It is also valid grounds, legally, for those who suffer from it to be granted asylum in the United States and become lawful residents here. A more interesting angle might be: what is preventing more undocumented transgender Latinas from applying for asylum, becoming legal residents and gaining legitimate employment? In California, the Transgender Law Center and other agencies help all kinds of transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking help and/or referrals. It would be wonderful to know what keeps so many transgender Latinas from accessing the services that are available to them so that they do not have to resort to sex work to earn a living in America.

    • samquinones

      Tina — I’m sorry if you found the subject lurid, but to me this is an important part of a story I’m working on, as it is likely why one woman who was killed felt she had to work the rough Lexington Avenue, as she didn’t have any of the surgery or implants that would have allowed her to work a less dangerous street.

      The subject of transformation, and what immigrants are seeking, has also long been of great interest to me. the topics you mention are also quite important. tonight even i was having a drink with a transgender Latina of great potential — educated, well-read and well-spoken — and yet she is an escort. I told her it made no sense to me that she continued in this work as she had options that other girls I’d met didn’t have. I’m hoping she will figure out another path.

  3. samquinones

    hey thanks, eberhard. good to hear from you. happy to get any posts about life in KY that you want to send.

  4. Eberhard Knierim

    Interesting piece, Sam. I have received more information reading your blogs over he past month than I get watching the daily news for a year. This is great information about the fabric of our society.

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