I am a woman and I have a penis. I’m also human and I have a right to exist. But, I’m not from here. No. I’m a dirty word and nothing more. I’m an immigrant.
So perhaps I should just disappear...
I am a trans. I have a female body, mind and soul. But I am something different, too. I am a citizen...and I am also a minority. Most of all though, I am a woman. As a woman, I am a feminist, too.
There is not one monolithic feminism, but we all want the same things: equal pay for equal work, universal healthcare, affordable childcare, equal opportunities, and a working environment free from sexist, sexual harassment and assault. And I care deeply about the other marginalized women: immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, people who identify as Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, Arab, and Muslim, survivors of violence, those who experience poverty, those in poverty because they are LGBT. They are my sisters.
My mom is a feminist. My grandmother is a feminist. My aunts are feminists. They’re all feminists. I am a feminist. I am also an immigrant. I was born and raised in Venezuela. In Venezuela, my mom did not have to worry about being raped. Such a contrast from my college experience here in the supposedly mighty US.
My mother was working in her family business, a newsstand, when I was born. My parents were middle-class, but a good income and education were not always attainable for my family, as you can imagine in a developing country with no real health care and no clean water. They fought hard to get me and my two older brothers into college, and we ended up being excellent students.
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to an elite private university. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. My dream has always been to be an astrophysicist. But that dream was so frequently interrupted by “irregular” work. I’ve had to fight for every single dollar that I have. I’ve had to fight to be able to pay for school and a laptop. And that fight has broken my heart and angered me time and time again. I am sick and tired of fighting for my future. I want the rights that every American and every immigrant should have. I want to enjoy my life without the fear that I may be raped or that I won’t be able to provide for my family if I’m unable to work for a couple of days. I want to be able to fall in love, and settle down.
I want to work. I want to get married. I even want to have children, sometimes, and I want to raise my children the way that I was raised – by loving and supporting my parents. But above everything, I just want to be safe and happy, even if it’s only some of the time. I’ll take anything I can get.
I think it’s incredibly important for people who are in situations like I am to speak up. I don’t want others to go through what I’ve had to go through. The threat of deportation isn’t just a threat – it’s a reality.
As a kid I was told to think twice about saying “hell” in school. My teacher even told me that if I did that, I would have to go to the principal. “Because the hell is in the principal’s office,” she explained. So I made a conscious decision not to say “hell” anymore. I remember the day I realized that my teacher was lying to me. Either that or the principles office is huge.
I’m still being silenced. I am lucky that I’ve never been physically harmed – though I’ve been emotionally, mentally, and sexually abused. When I have asked for help, I’ve been told that I don’t need it or I don’t want it.
I know that I could easily be sent back to Venezuela, but I don’t want to go. I am already here. I’m fighting every day to build my life. All I want is to live, and I type this with genuine tears in my eyes. Is that really so much to ask? Really? Please. Please. Please. Just let me live.
Last month I got an anonymous email telling me that I should be deported. I was scared. I was angry.
But I didn’t let them stop me.
“My mom never had to tell me twice” is a line from a poem that I read recently. It spoke to me. I said that to myself over and over.
I said “my mom never had to tell me twice.” She never had to tell me twice that I shouldn’t speak up when my life is at stake. She never had to tell me twice that the kids would gang up on me. She never had to tell me twice that I was the one who had to change. She never had to tell me twice that I wasn’t allowed to be angry. She never had to tell me twice that speaking out would result in punishment.
She never had to tell me twice. She never had to tell me twice. She never had to tell me twice.
I am tired of being quiet.
Thank you for reading. English is not my first language and I apologise for my poor grasp of it.