YWCA Metropolitan Chicago believes in the intersectionality of empowering women and eliminating racism. That’s why we thought it was fitting to highlight the importance of celebrating all womxn. Our friends at Brave Space Alliance were kind enough to share their thoughts on what this month means for our trans sisters. For those unfamiliar with Brave Space Alliance, this is their mission statement:
Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ+ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. We strive to empower, embolden, and educate each other through mutual aid, knowledge-sharing, and the creation of community-sourced resources as we build toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
Hello my name is Reyna Ortiz. I am the housing manager here at Brave Space Alliance, and a little bit about myself and my path to womanhood: I transitioned in 1993 when I was thirteen years old. At thirteen years old I understood my feminine power as a trans youth and I was able to verbalize it to my family. And luckily for me, my family also understood and recognized, you know, my degree of femininity and really nurtured, grown, and really believed in me and my journey, so I feel very supported. I love myself as a trans person, I love my trans community, and I do a lot of trans work in this city when it comes to working with people experiencing homelessness, medical, poverty issues, all under the trans spectrum.
What is the beauty of Women’s History Month?
The beauty of Women’s History Month is about celebrating feminine power: understanding and recognizing the history of feminine power, beauty, and strength. But it’s also about inclusion; it’s about inclusion of a spectrum of femininity, of womanhood, of all shapes, sizes, and the perception of what we believe womanhood to be.
Who is a trans figure in Chicago that you would like to acknowledge?
A trans figure in Chicago history that I would like to acknowledge for Women’s History Month is Ketty Teanga. She was an Ecuadorian trans woman who left Ecuador to Puerto Rico to find her home here in Chicago. And here in Chicago she established a safe space and developed a place where trans women from all over the world can come to Chicago to, you know, transition safely. She was a pioneer who laid the foundation for a lot of undocumented trans women to leave their homeland, which was not accommodating to their gender identity, to come to Chicago to start the process of transition safely. She is a pioneer who here in Chicago we celebrate during Women’s History Month because she paved the way for lots of trans women to be able to flourish successfully in the safety of Chicago.