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First Person: Supporting LGBTQ Youth In San Diego’s South Bay

March 11, 2019 1:33 p.m.

GUEST:Lucero Camarena, transgender youth services navigator, San Diego LGBT Community Center

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Related Story: First Person: Supporting LGBTQ Youth In San Diego’s South Bay


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

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Moore admits myths built on excellence driven by change for LGBT young people who live in San Diego South Bay finding resources support or just a place to hang out with their peers. Just got a little easier. The new LGBT youth center recently opened its doors in Chula Vista and as part of our First Person series we hear from someone who knows all too well what the space means for the LGBT community.

Hello my name is Lucy said Oka Medina and my pronouns are she her hers. I am the transgender youth services navigator for the San Diego LGBT Center and I am also a staff member with the South Bay Youth Center and the Hillcrest youth center.

I grew up in Turlock California. It's in northern California and it's a rural town. So one of the experiences I had when I was a kid I was 6 years old and I was walking out very feminine Lee and my mom comes up to me and she says well you can't do that.

And I asked But why not. And she said because you're a boy and at that moment was when I began to internalize that I was an impostor that I could never be loved that I was unworthy of freely and openly expressing myself.

And so I think that was kind of the Genesis to a lot of internalized hatred and suffering. And so I had to work through that my entire life too. I finally got to that point when I got older that know who I am is beautiful trans is beautiful and I am more than worthy of the love and the acceptance of my family.

The first moment I was existing within my truth was a year and a half ago right before my transition. I had been doing drag for some time but that was more of a performance right. And I was able to disassociate my performance style from my identity. And it felt safer to express myself in ways that I enjoyed.

But I got to the point where I started realizing you know what. This is not actually what I want for myself. And I became comfortable with all right. I'm going to move out into the world expressing myself not as my drag performer name not as some character but as who I am and I name stepped out into the world and it was the most terrifying experience of my life because there I was out open vulnerable and I came face to face with my greatest fears of myself. But through that experience I was able to shift into a different state of awareness and consciousness of what my who I really was.

And it was very scary but it was also so necessary for me to live my fullest life. And once I did that I was able to heal through a lot of things and maybe I was able to address a lot of my dysphoria through medical transition through finding community at the San Diego LGBT Center actually. And the San Diego LGBT Center was.

The first place where I found my community and it became the only place for quite some time and I would frequent the gender identity discussion groups and that's where I connected to so many of the folks who really were fundamental to my enduring through my transition. They were able to support me in accessing my name and gender change which was one of the most transformational experiences no pun intended of my entire life. Being able to see myself reflected in documentation is something that is so important and is so difficult to access for so many trans people so that's part of the services we provide right through my position.

So we created the SB youth center because we really wanted to provide more opportunities for not the Unix communities as well as folks from our other marginalized and disadvantaged communities to have a space where they can have culturally competent resources a story that really stands out in my mind is a youth who would take three buses just to come to the Hillcrest youth center because they lived in the South Bay and the Hillcrest Youth Center at the time. Before we open bay was the only space where they got access to supportive resources gender firming community for someone to take two hours that really I think speaks a lot to the needs of the South Bay and just getting the word out there is important.

You know some of my own challenges. Some of the things I'm still working through the youth reflect so you know.

I personally have to be self-aware and know how I can navigate these experiences in ways that are healthy and how I can support other people through that. It feels incredibly rewarding to be supporting youth in ways that I needed as well. This first person feature was produced by Marissa Cabrera.

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