The Journey of Transgender Latina Women in the U.S.

Reported by Irene Benedicto - Photo and Video by Oliver Contreras


The journey of transgender Latina women presents an intimate portrait of transgender Latinas living in the United States.

Of transgender Latina immigrants who arrive to the U.S., 84% are fleeing violence related to their gender identity, according to the organization Translatina Coalition.

Many originate from Central America, a region that is already experiencing extreme instability and violence. But for transgender women, their gender identity heightens their vulnerability.

In addition to the increased risk of assault and abuse, exposure to HIV infection, family rejection and consequences of negative stigmatization, the traumas these women face are compounded by the legal challenges of immigration and obstacles to accessing medical and social services. This has relegated their struggles to the shadows.

Now through this project, multiple transgender women openly recall how they confronted, defied, and survived these challenges on their journey to the States as they transition to live as the women they have always been.




“Mamá, I want to die and talk to God and ask Him to make me the right way. Because when He gave me a penis, He made a mistake. I’m not a boy, I’m a girl. I want Him to fix it and then put me in your belly to be born again from you, because I want you to be my mamá always.”



The first place Alexa called home was Orlando’s house. He was 65. She was 16. The women who worked at the market taught her how to use her beauty. But her family didn’t approve of those influences. And making a new family is risky.



When Josselyn took the bus to Jucuapa, El Salvador, she was too young to pay for the bus. When you are under 10 years old, the ride is free. But she was old enough for her parents to kick her out of home when her mami discovered that her child, who had penis, was actually a girl.