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A Transgender Latina Who Was Deported From The US Was Murdered In El Salvador

A transgender woman who was deported from the US after seeking refuge from anti-LGBTQ violence in her homeland was murdered following her return to El Salvador, the Washington Blade reports.

When the woman, who was known as Camila, went missing, the Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans, a trans advocacy group in the Central American country, started a search and discovered that she had been admitted to a hospital in San Salvador, the nation’s capital, on Jan. 31. She passed away on Feb. 3.

Authorities are still unsure what happened during the attack, but she was found outside the capital and transported to Rosales National Hospital with “multiple injuries.”

Camila entered the US on one of the migrant caravans last year after receiving threats because of her gender identity. According to Salvadoran activists, US officials did not believe her life was in danger and deported her back to her home country four-to-five months before her death.

“She migrated to the US because of threats that she had received, but she was deported because they didn’t believe her,” Aislinn Odaly, an independent LGBTI rights advocate, told the publication.

Camila is the second trans woman who was murdered in El Salvador this month. On Feb. 8, a woman named Lolita was killed with a machete in Sonsonate, but there are little more details surrounding her death.

According to the Washington Blade, neither El Salvador’s National Civil Police nor the country’s attorney general has classified the murders as hate crimes, particularly because Lolita and Camila died in public hospitals where reports didn’t identify them as victims of violence.

“We want justice and that these cases are investigated and the reformed penal code procedures to be applied when those who are responsible are found,” Alfaro told the Blade, alluding to a 2015 amendment to El Salvador’s legal code that enhances penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Although we have begun the year badly, we hope these crimes establish precedents for there to also be a positive legal framework that regulates the situation of trans people, especially the situation of violence and insecurity,” she continued.

Read: In Chile, This School For Transgender Students Allows Kids To Learn In A Safe And Affirming Environment

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In Chile, This School For Transgender Students Allows Kids To Learn In A Safe And Affirming Environment

things that matter

In Chile, This School For Transgender Students Allows Kids To Learn In A Safe And Affirming Environment

Bullying and discrimination can make school feel impossible for transgender students. In Chile, many queer youth stop attending class to avoid intimidation, often falling behind or even dropping out. Amaranta Gomez School, an institution for transgender students in Santiago, Chile, is trying to change that.

Founded by the Selenna Foundation, an organization in the South American country protecting trans rights, in 2017, the school offers youth between the ages of six and 17 courses on math, science, history and English as well as workshops on art and photography. About 22 students attend the school, with an additional six expected to join soon. They are assigned to one of two classrooms based on their age.

“I’m happy here because there are many other kids just like me,” Alexis, a 6-year-old student who was bullied at his previous school, told the Associated Press.

A 2016 report by UNESCO said that in Latin America, school violence against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity harms “the development of the affected people, school coexistence, academic performance and, consequently, their permanence in school.”

Teachers at Amaranta Gomez, which was named after muxe activist and anthropologist Amanranta Gónez Regalado, work pro bono. In its first year, all school expenses were paid the Selenna Foundation’s president Evelyn Silva’s and the institution’s coordinator Ximena Maturana’s personal savings.

Starting in March, families will have to pay about $7 a month for their child to attend.

“We try to reduce the costs to the minimum (for families) so that they don’t say that (kids) are not attending because they don’t have pencils, and it becomes a reason to leave school,” Silva said.

Even with limited funds, the foundation has created a summer school program that offers dance and additional workshops to about 20 children, including some who do not attend Amaranta Gomez.

The school, the first of its kind in Latin America, is creating a safe space where children can learn, feel affirmed and have community.

“I feel free and happy here,” said Felipe, 15. “The environment is very good. Everyone who arrives is simply accepted.”

Read: Latinx Kindergarten Teacher Pens Bilingual Children’s Book To Teach Youth About Gender-Neutral Pronouns

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This Trans Model Is Rallying For Victoria Secret To Evolve Its Limited Perspective Of What Beauty Is

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This Trans Model Is Rallying For Victoria Secret To Evolve Its Limited Perspective Of What Beauty Is

Big box lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret is no stranger to controversies related to cultural insensitivity. In recent years the brand has been lambasted by critics and feminist groups alike for their Influence on sociocultural body image norms, child labor, and appropriation of culture. More recently, the manufacturer gained criticism after the company’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek of Victoria’s Secret’s parent company L Brands made anti-trans comments in a recent interview with Vogue magazine about the direction of the company’s branding and use of models.

In a recent interview, Razek emphatically rejected the idea that VS would have a trans model walk down its runway or appear in its catalogs.

Speaking to Vogue about the brand’s opinion about including trans and plus-size models in its lineup, Razek told the magazine “Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy.” The marketing executives comments quickly provoked a mass of social media pushback, with some of the lines’ own models even calling for a boycott and support for a more evolved and diverse show in the near future.

Razek has since apologized for his words but celebrity figureheads and customers of the brand have proved that they are still not pleased.

Trans Filipina model Geena Rocero has also spoken out against Razek by proving that trans models can certainly sell “fantasy.”

In a piece published on Elle.com, the Manila-born activist explained why she started to post #TransIsBeautiful photos on her Instagram in response to the transphobic Victoria’s Secret stance and how she is not letting naysayers bring her down. She admitted that it has “always been such an aspiration to be a part of that dream” [of walking the Victoria’s Secret fashion show runway] because it is televised globally and can mean a lot for a model’s career,” she explained before going onto highlight that the brand launched the career of big-name models like Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima. “All of these supermodels walked the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. I wanted to be just like them — especially the models of color… VS has started including different races in their casting, but it’s not enough. They need to do more.”

Rocero’s assertion that trans women are sexy and just as capable of selling the “fantasy” of lingerie comes at a truly crucial time.

This isn’t her first foray into activism, however. In 2014, Rocero gave a TED Talk where she came out as transgender and launched Gender Proud, an advocacy group that “aims to uplift transgender communities around the globe.”

Not only is she a trans rights advocate but she is also a proud Filipina immigrant and is outspoken about how those identities need to be represented.

“For me, two big intersections — being a proud, transgender woman of color and an immigrant, and being a proud Filipina — all of these things I bring into the work that I do because it provides me a sense of pride and healing. For so long, it was dictated to me that all those identities — trans, immigrant, Filipina — were not represented. I wanted to do my part in making an impact.”

In the Elle piece, she writes about how she had to come to terms with the colonized mentality that whiteness is more beautiful than brown skin.

Ultimately, however, she came to be proud of all of her identities.

“Growing up in the Philippines, I bought all those ideas that stem from a colonized mentality — that your proximity to whiteness makes you beautiful. I myself would buy skin whitening soap and cream. It’s blatantly advertised on billboards and commercials: You want to be white? You’ll be sexier and happier if you’re white. But the moment I became more in touch with that, I realized the power I carry with me in all the spaces I inhabit is because of those identities, not despite those identities.”

Rocero’s criticism of Victoria’s Secret boils down to this: If you don’t become more inclusive (that means including both trans and plus-size models in your future fashions hows), you are going to get left behind.

“Inclusivity in a brand ethos is both the now and the future. You can’t escape that fact. The train is moving so fast. You’re going to get left behind,” she concluded.

And she’s not wrong.

If the backlash Victoria’s Secret has faced in the past few days has proven anything, it’s that anti-trans and fatphobic comments do not belong here anymore. The world is moving along in the right direction, even if that’s still difficult to see in today’s political climate. If Victoria’s Secret wants to sell “fantasy,” then they need to include diverse women who represent what America and the world really look like today.

Fans of Rocero took to Twitter to express their support of her calling out Victoria’s Secret.

As fans have pointed out, she can most definitely sell fantasy with her, well, model body and gorgeous looks. It’s not like she’s lacking in work, either.

Others took to pointing out that Rocero is, well, hotter than anyone VS has featured.

Seriously, why is she not a VS Angel yet? Perhaps now, with these controversial comments, she simply won’t want to be. Though if Victoria’s Secret really wants to correct their horrible mistake, they’ll hire her ASAP.

In the meantime, we’ll be following the model, producer, and activist on Instagram for more #TransIsBeautiful photos.

Read: The Trailer for Life-Size 2 Just Dropped and It’s Full of Latina Magic

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