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Empowering Trans Voices

Kenia Gallardo is empowering the trans community through personal advocacy.

Kenia Gallardo (Photo by Alex Rosa)


Kenia Gallardo is one of those women who has shown just how powerful it can be to make the personal political. Gallardo, a 33-year-old woman from  Zacatecas, Mexico, uses her life and her story to make strides for the trans community. Although she has not yet had the opportunity to pursue a college degree, Gallardo says that she is happy to have had other educational opportunities, including having recently earned a certificate granted by the State of Texas as a community health worker through Trust Community Health Workers.

According to a recent article appearing in the Houston Chronicle, the focus of the 15-week training was “learning how to build relationships with patients from many backgrounds and understanding their communities’ health needs.” Gallardo told the Chronicle, “We’re showing everyone that trans people can help people, too,”

In her conversation with OutSmart, Gallardo revealed that she is presently an active member of the Ryan White Planning Council, a Houston area HIV services group, and recently hosted Houston Trans Pride at the Tuani Club. She was a featured speaker at the Transgender Day of Visibility on March 29 at Ripcord Bar, where community members and allies gathered to honor the day with a variety of speakers.

Now actively seeking new opportunities, Gallardo states, “I’m working as an entertainer and currently looking for opportunities for work. As a trans woman, it is not always easy to find the right job.” She is hopeful that “right job” will turn up soon. “I dream for better and more opportunities for trans people,” she says.

Gallardo’s love, passion, and interest in empowering and guiding her community began a few years ago when she realized the needs and barriers within the community. “It is sad to think how I became interested in the topic, since at that time the LGBTQ community—and specifically the trans community of Houston—was going through a wave of violence, discrimination, and, worse yet, taking our trans identity as a political game.”

It was at that moment that she took action by becoming a community organizer. “I still remember with great sadness attending the funeral of one of our trans sisters who was murdered,” she says, “and seeing her mother devastated. It made me think a lot. And I told myself, ‘We have to do something,’” Gallardo says the experience made her think a lot about her own mother andmade her realize that the trans community must demand justice. “So we decided to organize a vigil-protest in her name and, yes, we achieved sufficient visibility to inform more people about us. At the same time, authorities listened more carefully,” she says.

Gallardo thinks that the best compliment she’s ever received for her work is being voted Gayest and Greatest by OutSmart readers. “I think this is the best compliment, where OutSmart makes the platform and space for people to show me their love and support for what I do to help others with this nomination and recognition,” Gallardo says.

The spirited activist said the most inspiring thing about working and getting involved with her community is simply the satisfaction of being able to contribute, even just a little, when it comes to improving the quality of life of others around her. “Knowing that you can help someone else is wonderful,” she said. “You know, I feel very lucky about what is happening in my life at the moment. I have a wonderful family, and I consider myself a very happy person.”

Gallardo said she would like to take advantage of these moments to continue preparing herself professionally, continue advocating for her trans brothers and sisters, and continue promoting the empowerment of her community.

As for what’s next for her, Gallardo says, “Indeed there are projects on the horizon. I am currently collaborating with local organizations to guide people to the social and health services that they offer, and, at this moment, I am doing everything necessary to return [to school] and pursue a degree in political science.”

A formal education, she believes, could lead to her true dream career, something that could also be a dream for the trans community. Gallardo’s passion, combined with a career in all things political, could help create the world all members of the LGBTQ community and our allies long to see.

“More than running for office,” Gallardo says, “I want to learn how to better represent my community and to bring the correct political information to them, so our people can make the right decisions for a better tomorrow.”

Follow Kenia Gallardo on Instagram @kengallardo3.

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Jenny Block

Jenny Block is a frequent contributor to a number of high-profile publications from New York Times to Huffington Post to Playboy and is the author of four books, including “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine." She has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs from Nightline to BBC Radio to Great Day Houston and has performed and spoken at bookstores, events, conferences, and resorts in the US and Mexico, as well as on Holland America Cruise ships.
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