Self-Made Woman: A Transgender Latina Tells Her Story

Some transgender people choose to keep their original sex organs even if they live as women, but I didn’t. It was hard to cut off a piece of my body, but that’s how deeply I felt I was born the wrong gender. That change meant that I had to relearn how that part of my body works and how I take care of it, but it was worth it. Other things came easily. I had been growing my hair out and experimenting with makeup and women’s clothes since I was 18. Wearing heels was definitely not a problem, honey. I feel like I was born knowing how to balance myself on them.

As a transgender woman, though, I know that there are things that I will never be able to experience: I will never know what it’s like to grow up as a little girl or be born with a female body rather than having to build one. I cannot have children. People might think that I gave up a lot of power when I became a woman, since men seem to run things, but they are wrong. I watched my grandmother and mother—I named myself after them and my only girlfriend, whom I still keep in touch with—struggle, but at the same, they were powerful people. My grandmother could make a whole meal for everybody with a couple of dollars. She took pride in everything: her home, her children. I don’t want to sound like I’m sexualizing women, because a lot of feminists don’t like when people say that wearing the right lipstick and the right skirt will bring you power, but I disagree. I think that a woman who is confident, well put-together and attractive has a lot of power that a man doesn’t.

That’s why I think that women should take the time to take care of themselves. Women tend to focus on everyone else first, which can be a beautiful quality, but you are a whole person, and you have to be kind to yourself. When you look good, you feel good. Sometimes I see women at the airport with, like, pajamas on, and I’m there wearing my four-inch heels, my hair curled and lip gloss on. Just taking 15 minutes for yourself can be so rewarding.

I’ve had women tell me that I’m less of a woman than them, but generally, reaction from other women is positive. Someone who is nice and comfortable in her own skin is not going to measure herself against me. I think I’m fabulous, and you should think that about yourself, too. I’m a firm believer that if you can grow it, show it—and if you can’t, then buy it! That goes for everything, from hair to brains. Whatever it is—whether it’s going to school, losing weight, doing anything that is going to make you feel better about yourself—the tools are there for you. The power is in your hands.