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Progress for Houston’s LGBTQ Mexican Community

Names and gender markers can now be changed on government IDs.

Ambassador Alicia Kerber-Pama (l) and Angelina DM Trailz

Angelina DM Trailz, a Lady Gaga impersonator and classically trained violinist who performs at the new South Beach and JR’s, is used to getting second looks.

“I get misgendered every day. People will stare at me in the bathroom. Sometimes they go out and check the door to make sure that they are in the right bathroom,” Trailz says.

“At Miller Outdoor Theatre, I once had a policeman follow me into the restroom. But once I get my new [identification card], at least I’ll have proof to protect me.”

Trailz is referring to her government ID documents that she is having changed at Houston’s Mexican consulate—for a second time—to reflect her gender-neutral status. Unfortunately, when Trailz initially got her card changed last month, she was unable to change the gender marker on her Mexican birth certificate and passport to reflect her gender-neutral status. Since January 20, the Houston’s Mexican Consulate has helped more than 70 trans Mexican nationals change the gender markers on their documents from male to female, or vice versa. But the gender-neutral “X” marker isn’t widespread here, and the U.S. Department of State has only been issuing passports with X gender markers since March of this year.

The Mexican government issued its first X-gender birth certificate earlier this year to Fausto Martínez, a nonbinary Mexican native, and now they have notified Trailz that she can have the X gender marker placed on her documents.

“It’s a very simple process,” says Trailz, who was performing at the Mexican consulate when she met Ambassador Alicia Kerber-Palma and they discussed it. “She told me I don’t even need an appointment. I’m just waiting to get a few friends to go down there with me for support, and then I’ll get it done. They tell me I’ll be the first one in Houston to get the X gender marker.

“It’s good news, bad news. It’s a learning process, but I’ll keep fighting. I’m not male or female, I’m somewhere in the middle,” she says. “And sometimes I don’t even know which bathroom to use.”

Kerber-Palma calls it a step forward in the fight for human rights. “This is in response to the demand from a very important sector of our community—the LGBTQ+ community,” she told KTRK-TV.

“For us, it’s taking someone in hiding and allowing them to be open. You don’t need to hide how you identify or who you love just be- cause other people consider that that’s not normal. They need to feel proud of who they are, and that they are secure here at the consulate.”

Elia Chinó, the founder and executive director of Fundación Latinoamericana de Acción Social (FLAS), a local nonprofit that provides wellness services to the LGBTQ and Latino communities, agrees.

“This was a long, long fight,” she says. “There was a lawsuit against the federal government, and finally, last year, they made it so the community can change their name and gender on their birth certificates and passports. Now, anyone who wants to change their name and gender can do it at any [one of the 50] Mexican consulates in the US.”

“I’ve also met with the Honduran consulate in February about doing the same, and I would like to meet with the other Latin consulates,” Chinó says.

Trailz, who has several friends who work at the consulate, applauds Kerber-Pal- ma in particular for helping trans women Mexican nationals change the gender markers on their documents.

Trailz will be playing her violin again at the consulate this month for Fiestas Patrias, Mexico’s independence day. And there will certainly be a lot for Houston’s community of Mexican LGBTQ nationals to celebrate.

But beyond that celebration, there is still more work to be done.

“It’s amazing because we never thought we would get to this point,” says Chinó. “This is the best accomplishment we have won for the Mexican LGBTQ community. But we have to continue the fight for protection,” she adds, referring to Marisela Castro, the fourth trans woman to be killed in Houston this year.

“We don’t want any more murders or hate crimes against us.”

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and, among others.
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