By Greg Hernandez
Mariana Marroquin knows “hate is real.”
“I’m a survivor. Hate has been close to me, telling me: ‘You should not be here, you should not exist,’” Marroquin, program manager of the Trans Wellness Center (TWC), shared during Unidas Against Hate, a critical virtual conversation featuring providers of trans-related services throughout Southern California held on Facebook Live on Friday, Oct. 16.
The event was organized in response to the recent anti-trans violence in L.A. The 33 homicides of trans and gender nonconforming people reported in the United States so far in 2020 makes it already the deadliest year on record.
For every transgender homicide, countless other trans people face violent attacks and discrimination every day in the U.S. Earlier this month in Los Angeles, there was a brutal attack on Daniela Hernandez, a trans women of color, in MacArthur Park. She was confronted by a group of men before being stabbed and having her throat cut.
Hernandez, who is recovering from her wounds, is a volunteer at [email protected] Coalition, where she serves hot meals to those in need.
“We cannot be the only ones at the forefront fighting for just the right to survive,” said Maria Roman of [email protected] Coalition.
Roman, the organization’s vice president and chief operations officer, wants to know where the outrage is.
“Imagine if across the country there were over 30 or 40 gay men being murdered,” she said. “What would the reaction be from the community? Would people be on the streets? Would people be using their social media? Would people be doing everything in their power to try to get out and highlight the atrocities?”
People Need to Step Up
“This is really a call to action,” Roman proclaimed. “Our people are dying. What is it going to take for people to get involved? For people to get angry? What is going to take for them to go to the street? We need support. We need people to be side-by-side with us in getting this point across.”
How can people help?
Roman (pictured, left) suggests raising funds for local trans-led organizations, galvanizing your friends, giving of your time, sharing your resources and contacts, and using your voice to let people know about what is happening.
“We need your commitment, we need you to get angry with us and we need you be right there by us to be able to create real change,” she said. “Share our stories. There are horrible things happening to trans people but there are trans people doing amazing things also.”
The activist called on people outside the trans community to use their phones and social media to make their online followers aware of the anti-trans violence that continues to occur unabated.
“I’ve been doing this kind of work for over 20 years and every year there has been at least 20 or 30 murders of trans people – especially black and brown trans people,” Roman pointed out. “Make the people understand that this is happening in this country to trans people.”
“We Are People Who Deserve to Have a Better Life”
Moderator Marroquin said that despite the constant threat, there is help out there for the trans community in Los Angeles to work towards the life they want and deserve.
“We are under attack and we are people who deserve to have a better life and to live free—to go to school, to have jobs, to be able to provide for our families,” she said. “We cannot let hate get between our goals. That’s why we are united and here together to learn about the services that are available for the trans community in Los Angeles. There are so many organizations that can help you and the place that you need to go and seek services is the one you feel comfortable with.”
That include Trans Wellness Center which is a community-based partnership between local organizations: APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, Bienstar, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), Friends Community Center, [email protected] Coalition, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center which is the lead agency coordinating management and operations.
Also taking part in the Facebook Live event and detailing various services available were representatives from The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anti-Violence Program, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, The LGBT Center Long Beach, and the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney Michael N. Feuer.
“Remember you are not alone and should never be ashamed of who you are,” Marroquin said. “You need to be proud of who you are and feel and celebrate who you are. There are some days that are hard, that are difficult but together we can get through this.”
If you have experienced hate violence and need assistance, please contact the Center’s Anti-Violence Project at 323-993-7673.