Tell our readers about you
I’m unable to speak about myself without honoring and paying homage to my late grandmother, Enriqueta Olvera Hay. Her love of people, deep conviction in Christ, and humility to serve others is deeply rooted in me and is the foundation in which I am planted: God, Family, Community.
I’m a God fearing and praising woman, everything I can visualize and put into action in order to help others, is because of God. I have lost count of the moments where I didn’t have a resource and direct point of contact to help someone while working as a case manager to vulnerable populations, but I would immediately receive an email, or phone call from someone who specialized in that area of expertise enabling me to move forward with my clients’ goals and objectives. There were instances in my career where I was seemingly the most “underqualified” person on paper, but the most qualified to speak up on particular issues that gravely impact Trans people and these public events would draw hundreds of people together, including elected officials and the press allowing the message to ring clear across San Diego. Anytime I doubted myself, every time someone attempted to make me feel inferior, God was always waiting on the other side to hold my hand. Anyone who feels like giving up, or who is suffering from anxiety and self-doubt, trust and believe there’s a blessing on the other side of that fear.
As a Transgender Xicana who has overcome every systemic and social assignment set to dimmish my existence, it is evident more now than ever that I am very powerful and am here on Earth for a reason. As a Trans woman who has a deep understanding of this, there is a vast obligation to change the atmosphere in every room I walk into, there is also a moral duty to make sure conversations regarding systemic and social change for the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, also very much elevate the “T” because for far too long we have been subjected to being marginalized by cisgender people and am tired of us being an afterthought. My beliefs have been criticized as “divisive”, but Black and Brown Transgender women literally have a life expectancy of 22-35 years of age, sadly from the result of anti-Trans violence and discrimination. Am I wrong for demanding special federal and state protections for the gender diverse community? Every Transgender person, especially Black and Brown women deserve to live a full life with an overflowing abundance of love, respect, and hope.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Linda Vista, San Diego, a very culturally diverse community with over 58 different languages spoken. Many of my classmates and friends were refugees whose families evaded war and hardship in their homeland. One of my fondest memories was going craw fishing in the San Diego River with my Cambodian best friend Sopeap and her family, just enjoying the simplicity of family communal fishing. Life as a kid was adventurous and spontaneous, we stayed out late and were all very independent kids. My best buddy and protector was Jaysen. We would bike ride all over Linda Vista each summer and in the fall, we could count on pillowcases full of Halloween candy. I miss his mom’s chicken adobo, the sour and zesty combo of lemon, vinegar, and soy sauce still remain unmatched.
Life in “The V” also came with a street code. There were streets and roads that many of us knew not to take, especially because there was a heavy presence of gang activity. My oldest brother sadly fell into the peer pressures of street gang life. Watching my brother’s identity change and him lose grasp of the morals our Nana instilled in us had to be one of my greatest heartbreaks in life. Watching anyone you love struggle with substance use disorder, gang life, and navigating the prison system is tragic for families. I love my older brother and am very proud of him for turning his life around and blessing our family with two incredible twins Sade and Anabelle.
Growing up with separated parents and my father’s deportation to Tijuana, Mexico allowed my mom the time and space she needed to decompress over the weekend. I knew the speedy and bumpy ride through the Tijuana roads and hills, would lead us to my father’s one acre dirt lot. Spending the weekend in Mexico meant bathing in a steel tub outside in the front yard, running rapid with his two dogs Cosa and Smokey all day, and concluding the night with a warm cup of café con leche.
There’s nothing more to love than Mexican heritage and being at my father’s parents’ home in Barrio Logan, the industrial city close to the bay front of San Diego. The Velazco family owns a whole street block in the 92113, consisting of a two-story Victorian home, two-story duplex, and a two-bedroom home. The property was unmistakably painted light pink and the courtyard made for the perfect place to play hide and seek; my dad’s mom would keep us energized with tacos de frijol. In Don Cuco and Nana’s house the only language spoken was Spanish, Mexican Catholic traditions were always upheld, parties and weekly gatherings were expected, and childhood was always festive.
How did you end up at Transgender Health & Wellness Center?
Transgender Health & Wellness Center has been a phenomenal platform to help exercise my leadership in community building, public health, fundraising, and civic engagement. Trans women, especially those of color, have the capacity to pioneer and our history proves it. Being a part of a synergetic agency with Trans women with varying intersecting identities in leadership, is a dream come true! Transgender Health & Wellness Center founder and Chief Executive Officer, Thomi Clinton (she/her), quickly became a mentor of mine in the summer of 2022, she expressed that I was outgrowing my previous role at a local community center. We have all hit glass ceilings in our careers, some placed there by other women, however, I am grateful for every professional steppingstone. The TH&WC platform allows for a visionary and outspoken leader to pioneer the gender diverse community forward, because we are still very much fighting hard for equal and equitable rights.
Transgender Health & Wellness Center’s mission rings true, we are the preeminent provider of services and support for the Transgender community by offering support and vital resources to those in need. Our CEO founded TH&WC in 2018 with $10,000, one employee, and 500 square feet in the Inland Empire. 2023 TH&WC now has a million-dollar operating budget, 25 employees, 130 volunteers, and 4 office locations in the southern region of California. We have robust programing and are always continuing to explore funding sources for our Palm Springs, Riverside, and San Diego offices. We do not want to be limited in our resources when it comes to helping vulnerable individuals and marginalized groups of people and are always seeking opportunities to expand our services across California. Am proud being a part of such a powerful legacy, especially one created by a Trans woman.
Having been appointed Director of Programs and being in direct report with our founder and CEO, is an honor. Every week during our directors meeting, it’s a place where visions for our agency can be shared, we all rally for one another’s desires to elevate the health & wellness center brand. Transgender Health & Wellness Center is an outstanding organization filled with some powerhouse Trans and Non-binary leaders. We are always seeking volunteers, so if you are interested in sharpening your skills and lending a helpful hand to your peers, please email [email protected]
What has been one of your major accomplishments so far?
My proudest professional accomplishment is curating Trans and Non-binary Tuesday – San Diego, a cultivated weekly safe space for the gender diverse community to congregate. Local Queer artists, designers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and dancers can share an extension of themselves with their peers. We have prolific leaders and speakers come into the space to help elevate others through mediums of storytelling and poetry. Community partners and public health agencies from all over the greater region of San Diego participate to help provide direct access to services and resources; thank you: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Family Health Centers of San Diego, San Ysidro Health, Live Well San Diego, Champions for Health, Christie’s Place, GILEAD, UC San Diego, SDSU, NAMI.
This event would not be made possible without the leadership and help of Tootie Thomas, someone who I admire very deeply for her hard work ethic and resourcefulness. She is the Owner of the Tranquillo Dojo Café, Manager of the Fair@44 venue space, and is the Executive Director of The El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association. The weekly social event since its inception on July 12th, 2022 has served over 2,000 people.
Trans and Non-binary Tuesday – San Diego heavily focuses on advancing the overall health equity of the Trans and Non-binary community. Meeting people where they are helps eliminate barriers to accessing public health services like free rapid HIV testing, PrEP referrals, linkages to care, and vaccinations. Transgender Health & Wellness Center was awarded $25,000 by Aids Healthcare Foundation, in our continued efforts to destigmatize HIV and empower folks to know their status and learn ways to stay protected.
What are your goals for 2023?
My professional goal by the spring of 2023, is to help raise $100,000 for the Transgender Health & Wellness Center San Diego office! The vision is to create a self-sustainable office for the fiscal 2023 year by making sure our office annual rent of $40,000.00 is paid off in full and that each of our electrologists all have highly advanced state of the art equipment, so their work is seamless. Furthermore, making sure that our overseeing RN and laser technicians have a new laser machine, so they can provide a wider range of services to our gender diverse and intersex patients.
Transgender Health & Wellness Center San Diego located at 3737 Moraga Ave. Suite A-204, San Diego, CA 92117. Generous donors are presently able to sponsor various rooms in our health center which include: lobby, CEO executive suite, clinician rooms, laser suite, bathrooms, and outreach closet. If you would like to learn more, please email [email protected]
All major donors for this fundraising initiative will be announced during our annual Transgender Day of Visibility event on Friday, March 31st, 2023, from 4-9 PM located at The Dojo Café: 4350 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92105.
My personal and most sacred wish for 2023 is to become a wife, homemaker, and a mother if God willing. Also discover ways to make passive and residual income, let’s also add wealth to the wish list!
Which services are offered to Transgender, Non-binary, and Intersex people?
Transgender Health & Wellness Center provides a variety of services and programs. We are best known for our permanent hair removal services through means of electrolysis and laser hair removal. Providing gender-affirming healthcare, is quintessential to our values; our California state board licensed clinicians are responsible for preparing patients for gender affirmation surgery. To learn more please check out our website www.trans.health
We also have an extraordinary behavioral health department providing free long-term therapy. Clinicians also specialize in writing letters of necessity, for our patients in need of gender-affirming treatment and surgeries. Victims of crime and survivors of intimate partner violence may qualify for housing assistance in Palm Springs. The behavioral health department is overseen by Mx. Van Ethan Levy (they/them), LMFT & LPCC. TH&WC prioritizes serving youth and their families, providing various means of education and advocacy for families and caretakers who desire to become better allies.
Employment assistance and hands-on career development experience are offered through our volunteer program. There’s no better way to learn promising skills than hands-on with the support of our talented staff and directors. Learn about fundraising and philanthropy and come join us with our various annual campaigns. Become a skilled outreach worker and ambassador for TH&WC, learn to network with community partners, and share our vision and mission with the greater community of southern California. Maybe you’re an inspiring grant writer, or project manager; come help us secure funding for programs and services for our most vulnerable. All volunteers are generously compensated with complimentary laser hair removal services. For more info email [email protected]
What is something you enjoy doing in your free time?
My favorite past time is taking my French bulldog hiking to Cowels Mountain; she also enjoys swimming in the Caribbean Sea. We recently took a 6-night vacation to Cancun, Mexico where we enjoyed Tortuga Beach, Isla De Mujeres, and spent Christmas in Playa De Carmen. Jumping on a plane and travelling with my trusted companion Cinco and eating delicious meals together will forever be on top of the list. If you’d like to double date and fly on a plane together let’s, go!