photo by: Cynthia Mack
Happy Pride Month Chingonas!
We here at Sew Bonita truly love and support the movement of our LGBTQ friends. Considering June is Pride Month, we are super excited to feature our friend and fellow Chingona, Belinda Trevino Cantu. A mama bear on a mission with the #BeHuman Campaign, and the fight for equality.
What is the #BeHuman Campaign about?
#beHuman is a peer facilitated, supportive discussion group for trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Our goal was to start a support group for parents of transgender kids but the need was greater than that. We aim to create a safer space for friends to discuss and share experiences, ask questions and build a community. My goal is to unite other parents in an effort to support our children and ensure trans equality.
Where did you find your inspiration for your movement?
#beHuman was inspired by my son who came out to me as trans 3 years ago. The evening he told me, I can recall like it was yesterday, led to my hunt for other parents like myself. I wanted support, advice, and comfort. It wasn't so much for him but for me. And as I sat in my van thinking about it...All I could think about was my mexicana madres y padres. Cuando ellos supieron que su hija o hijo era transgenero, como reaccionaron? I wanted to know all of that especially from my culture. So as I researched support groups in my LGBT community, I found none so I reached out to some friends and we formed the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance in partnership with the #beHuman Campaign. The first ever support group for trans folks. After our first group meeting, I was inspired to keep moving forward and doing everything I possibly could for them. Hearing their stories and their struggles moved me. I couldn't understand how a parent would abandon their child just because they were trans. I wanted to be their mama bear. And as it turns out, we are all they have.
What is the challenge you face?
I have years of volunteer experience and it was so easy for me to call a business or a dear friend and ask for donations for my non-profit that I was working with at the time. I was an avid volunteer with the Salvation Army, Children’s Advocacy Center of the Coastal Bend but as soon as I would tell them I was raising funds for the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation (aka AIDS Foundation), you could hear a pin drop. I would send out emails and never get a response back. Businesses that normally would throw money at me, stopped dead in their tracks. It frustrated me so much. I didn't understand why I wasn't getting support. So one day I asked. The response was disheartening. "Bel, you know i love you and support everything you do but if I donate money to them, my business would go away." I asked "Why?" Because it serves the gay community and AIDS is still very much a taboo subject. I cried and was heartbroken. When I started raising awareness for my son and my campaign that was different. The more I told our story, the more I spoke to people’s hearts. The outpour of community support is wonderful. Leaves me speechless sometimes but yes, I do have some that talk about "Why should they support trans people?” or “Why should they help fund my sons top surgery when it was HIS choice to be trans?” Not everyone is going to understand or empathize with our story but that one person or that one family that I have an impact on, is all I need to continue our fight for justice, equality and freedom. Freedom that my son can one day live life without having to bring up the word trans because people will just see him as a human being.... hence hashtag beHuman.
photo by: Cynthia Mack
How does your Mexican culture/heritage shape what you do?
Mi cultura es amor. We love passionately and with all our soul. We see with our heart and we are capable of feeling every ounce of a person’s pain and happiness. I get that because I’m Mexican. Mi cultura has taught me to be a good fighter. Soy Tauro...my sign is a Taurus. A fighting bull. I take pride in family values and morals. Enseńio a mis hijas y hijo a amar todos. Don't ever judge anyone because God doesn't judge you so who are you to judge. We are also proud and that could be a bad thing. Our pride gets in the way of seeing things rationally and accepting others for who they are but love ultimately wins. My roots run deep and I teach that my kid that family is everything. Si no tengo Dios ni mi familia, no tengo nada.
What does Chingona mean to you?
No true words can authentically describe a Chingona. A Chingona is a verb. A powerful woman who is doing things for herself is a Chingona. A single mother working two jobs trying to make ends meet while taking care of her kids, making sure they have food on the table, educating herself to be a role model for her kids is a Chingona. A working professional making time to network for herself to see her business grow is a Chingona. A college student working her ass off to earn that degree and be the first woman to graduate from college is a Chingona. A woman that gives her all to volunteer to others and to make a difference in not just one persons life, but to a community is a Chingona. It’s just not a woman. It’s the actions a woman takes to make a positive impact on the world. A woman wears that name proudly in her heart, in her mind and on her chest. I am a proud Mexican, lesbian mother trying to make a difference in this world. I want to be remembered as a Chingona that never gave up.
photo by: Debbie Noble
Cuentame el Chisme
Check out out this awesome video showcasing Mason, Momma Bear and the journey they are on together!
Read here on a beautiful interview with OutInSA . As well as this amazing showcase of some of bravest souls in San Antonio featured by SA Express News. Learn about their journey, and their mission for equality for their trans brothers and sisters.
Chingonas support Other Chingonas
Thanks for reading this blog featuring my dear friend Belinda and her beautiful family. Belinda holds such a place in my heart, and means sew much to me. I'm honored to have written about her, Mason and his journey. If you know of anyone that needs support on their journey please contact #BeHuman. We are all in this together! Besos!
¡Hasta la próxima!
FOUNDER | CHINGONA