NARRATOR: As a young immigrant from Colombia, Cris Salamanca has had to overcome many obstacles to land a job in Los Angeles. He said being transgender doesn’t make it much easier.
CRIS SALAMANCA: You know when anybody goes to a job interview they’re looking at themselves in every single detail of “how I can be better” or “how I can put my best foot forward” but when you’re dealing with gender issues it goes to a whole other level. That no matter how on-point you can be with your interview, it’s still not going to come through because they have all these preconceived notions of what it’s going to be like to hire you. The statistics show we’re really scared, that we’re not going to be taken with respect so a lot of us just end up doing work that’s hidden away or at nighttime.
NARRATOR: And according to a new report, these are common experiences among the region’s trans Latinx community.
The TransLatina Coalition surveyed almost 130 trans Latinx people across Southern California, including Long Beach. The health-centered study, presented at a California Endowment panel in Los Angeles last week, found only 20 percent of those surveyed have full employment, with many suffering mental health issues.
Jacqueline Caraves was a co-principal investigator for the study.
JACQUELINE CARAVES: What we tried to do in our study was really assess what the status of trans Latino health is at. Most of the participants in our study, more than 30 close to 35 percent of participants actually their main place to go when they are in need of medical care is the emergency room. So if you’re in need you have to wait until the absolutely final moment until you can’t really deal with it anymore which probably ends up costing even more.
On the topic of housing up to 19 percent of the participants are actually homeless or living in temporary housing.
NARRATOR: In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, many LGBTQ+ centers received a spike in calls for help from people experiencing serious mental distress. Bamby Salcedo, CEO of The TransLatina Coalition, was involved with the study and hopes the findings will highlight a growing need.
BAMBY SALCEDO: I think it’s important we understand that we’re living in a critical moment especially right now because of the political climate. So, [with] figuring out the needs of trans Latino individuals who live in southern California, I think it’s a very pivotal [task] and it’s one that is obviously marking history. Unfortunately we as trans people don’t have many resources but we have our bodies. And so we need bodies of our allies, also the bodies of the people who support us and love us as who we are.
NARRATOR: Caraves echoed these sentiments and expressed hope for the trans Latinx community.
JACQUELINE CARAVES: If I’ve learned anything it is about the resiliency even in spite of all the injustices and inequality that they experience on a daily basis within institutions, that no matter what they’re still fighting and they’re still facing all of it and this is a testament of what this report really is.
NARRATOR: Reporting for VoiceWaves, this is Nayobi Maldonado-Ochoa.
You can read “The State of Trans Health” report in full here.