We interviewed two non-binary people for Latinx and Hispanic Heritage month to get their thoughts on bodily autonomy, their role models, and how the TGNC community can do a better job of supporting Latinx and Hispanic people in our circles.
The fight for bodily autonomy has been a big issue for TGNC people this year. How are you claiming bodily autonomy as a person of Latinx or Hispanic heritage?
First of all, I don’t consider myself Latinx or Hispanic. I consider myself Indigenous—Zapotec Indigenous. My grandparent’s first language was not Spanish. It was an Indigenous language. We have our own food. We have our own way of dressing. We have our own way of healing and our own medicinal and spiritual practices that are different from what you might consider Latinx or Hispanic traditions which come from Catholicism. That’s not to say that we weren’t colonized, influenced by Catholicism, or general machismo—because we were. However, the way we hold on to these parts of ourselves is a practice of bodily autonomy. It’s the way I try to speak my language and share my food. It’s nourishing my body with the foods from my ancestral traditions.
There are also people called “Munxe”. This Zapotec word translates roughly to what Americans call transwomen. The Munxe are typically assigned male at birth and take on more feminine roles in the community. I don’t know much more about the Munxe because that’s not how I identify with my transness, but they are the closest people I can identify with in my culture. Every time I think about them I feel happy. I’m not the first person to identify as trans in my family, but having a word for that in your own culture feels really validating.
I’m claiming bodily autonomy through somatic healing work and reconnecting with my ancestors to decolonize my identity. Being gender non-conforming allows me to think about the truth behind the homophobia and transphobia passed down to my parents as the residue of a long history of colonization. The term “nepantla”, meaning ‘in between’ in Nahuatl (an Uzo-Aztecan language), has helped me step into my authenticity—that I belong to neither colonization nor what we were forced to leave behind. Likewise, I both am neither man or woman.
Do you have any Latinx or Hispanic TGNC role models and why? Who inspires you?
There’s a writer named Myriam Gurba. She wrote a memoir called Mean. I love that she’s an unapologetic masculine-leaning lesbian who dealt with a lot of the same things I did growing up. I went to a high school where ninety-eight percent of the people were Latinx or Hispanic, and really into Catholicism or machismo. Her story was similar. It wasn’t great, but it was cool for me to be able to read her story and relate to it.
I also look up to Roberta Colindrez. I first saw her in Mrs. America when she plays a hot butch lesbian. Then I saw her again in Vida, a story about two sisters who live in Boyle Heights in East LA and how they take over their mom’s bar. Colindrez plays the love interest of one of the sisters. It was just so wonderful to see a hot butch Latina with curly hair and so much confidence. I wish I had been that confident in myself as a teenager. I probably would’ve been happier with myself had I seen her then, but it makes me happy for kids today. Also on Vida, there’s a non-binary actor named Ser Anzoategui who was in a queer relationship with the sister’s deceased mother. Ser is an older fat butchy dyke, and to see them on screen was impactful. It’s so fun to see masculinity in Mexican women especially as we often look like our dads and grandpas. I’m realizing that’s how I’m presenting to the world too. I look like my grandfather. My mom even pointed it out the last time she saw me and I almost started crying. So my grandfather is kind of my icon.
My role models are my TGNC identifying friends and chosen family. While I didn’t have anyone to learn from that’s considered an elder, I consider those living and learning alongside me my role models.
How do you think the trans community could better support and celebrate Latinx and Hispanic TGNC folks?
I think the trans community could support and celebrate us better by using a map and realizing it’s not just Mexico down there. There’s more than tacos and burritos. Spanish isn’t even our language. Even within Latin America, there’s so much diversity because there are so many Indigenous cultures. My cousin works and does Indigenous outreach across all of Los Angeles to help teach and maintain the Indigenous languages in different communities here. She currently teaches eighteen different languages. If there are that many in Los Angeles, how many do you think are in Latin America?
I think the trans community can support and celebrate us by creating spaces for us to gather safely. Create platforms that cater to the themes that exist in our lives, and give us room to help plan those events.
Featured Image by The Gender Spectrum Collection.
Check out our TransLash Guide to Hispanic Heritage Month for more Latinx and Hispanic trans-affirming content.
My name is Yolanda, I am an urban farmer working to decolonize my own existence to try and get free. I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, and identify as Mexican in the process of decolonization. I love collectivizing and cultivating with people. My dream is to have a queer land trust centered on healing and earth tending
Beau they/them if you’re white or I don’t know you, any pronouns if you a homie. I am a Black and Zapotec Mexican non-binary butch lesbian with ADHD. I am a public school educator. Follow me on Instagram at @beau.nito.