The Organización Latina de Trans en Texas promotes equality for transgender Latinas in Texas.
By Megan Smith
In January, a group of transgender Latina women was banned from a public restroom, berated, and told they were not women. “That was the day when trans Latinas decided to say ‘enough’ to discrimination and racism,” says Houston trans activist Ana Andrea Molina.
It was because of this experience that Molina decided to found the Organización Latina de Trans en Texas (OLTT), a group that protects, supports, and advocates for the Latina transgender community in Texas. When OLTT held its first meeting in March at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in the Heights, Molina did not expect more than 20 women to attend. “To our great surprise, more than 50 girls from cities all over Texas arrived,” Molina says, noting that women traveled from Katy, Pearland, Cleveland, College Station, Pasadena, Conroe, Bryan, Galveston, Channelview, and Galena Park to participate.
“We are a vulnerable community,” says Molina, explaining why an organization specifically for Latina transwomen is so important. “Living in the state of Texas, we are dealing not only with transphobia, but with racism. The macho culture and social stigma of our countries of origin also impacts our members. It doesn’t just affect homosexual men, but us transwomen as well.”
OLTT seeks to help its members with issues surrounding immigration, changing their name and gender marker on government-issued IDs, HIV-prevention, where to receive culturally competent healthcare services, and more. “Many of our Latina sisters have to get hormone medication from their home countries because they cannot find trans-inclusive clinics, or the cost for them is too high,” Molina explains. The group also provides members with free conversational English classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:45 p.m.
The organization’s monthly meetings provide members with a safe space to express themselves and address their needs, Molina says. Each meeting features a workshop, guest speaker, and a banquet-style dinner donated by the group’s members. Previous guest speakers have included Mexican activist Paty Betancourt, Houston Area Community Services’ Oscar Flores, and Honduran activist Claudia Spellman.
But the group’s activism isn’t confined to its meetings. In addition to HIV-prevention outreach, condom distribution, and volunteering for causes such as the Hondurans Outraged Movement, OLTT has been very active in supporting the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). After the Texas Supreme Court ruled that HERO must be placed on the November ballot, several OLTT members traveled to Houston City Hall to testify in its favor. “The HERO is of utmost importance for trans people since it defends us and ensures the equality of human rights,” Molina says. “This comprehensive ordinance provides us with a solution to discrimination cases without having to endure the cost of a lawyer or [appear in] court.”
And to HERO opponents who claim the ordinance will allow transgender people to assault women in public restrooms, Molina responds, “That statement is unfair, discriminatory, and frames us as people without human values. To date, there have been no reports of trans people [posing a risk] to women in restrooms.”
Molina says she will continue her activism until “all trans people are treated with respect and dignity in society.” Until then, she aims to network with trans Latinas nationally and internationally to garner more support for OLTT—especially now that the organization is seeking nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. “We are not just an organization,” Molina says. “We are like sisters.”
OLTT’s next general meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on September 16 at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church (2025 W. 11th St. at T.C. Jester). The group is also hosting a benefit show on September 25 at Vivianas Nite Club (4624 Dacoma St.) to help raise funds for the group to obtain a permanent meeting space. General admission is $10. For more information, visit latinatranstexas.org or email Ana Andrea Molina at [email protected]