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Transgender Mexican nationals celebrate victory in fight for identity

Transgender people from Mexico living in the United States can now get birth certificates and passports that affirm their name and gender. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis tells us why this means so much to the cross-border LGBTQ+ community.

In what is being hailed as a victory for cross-border LGBTQ+ rights, three transgender activists became the first Mexican nationals in San Diego to receive official birth certificates and passports that affirm their gender identity Wednesday morning.

Previously, transgender Mexican nationals living in the United States faced discrimination and bureaucratic hurdles when they tried to change their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender.

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They had to travel to Mexico and ask a judge to grant them gender affirming documents and identification.

However, traveling to Mexico is not an option for undocumented immigrants, said Giselle Montaño, an activist with the Pryotecto Trans Latina group and one of the three people who received new documents Wednesday.

She said this reality left undocumented transgender people feeling ignored by their country of origin.

“We didn’t have anything from Mexico that recognized us,” she said. “We had another identity there.”

Now, any transgender Mexican national can receive a new birth certificate and passport in any of Mexico’s 50 consulates throughout the United States.


This is part of a larger effort by Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to make consulates more inclusive.

TransMexico 02.jpg
Matthew Bowler
These three trans woman and activists have worked for over a decade to allow Mexican consulates and embassies to change the gender on birth certificates and passports. San Diego, Calif. March 9, 2022.

“I think that the possibility of providing birth certificates based on the recognition of the right gender identity is one step in the right direction in terms of making us inclusive and safe spaces for all,” said Carlos Gonzalo Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego.

More than 100 new birth certificates and passports have been issued to transgender Mexican nationals across the United States since Mexican consulates began doing this in January, Gutierrez said.

Jamie Arangure, director of Proyecto Trans Latina, said the organization had been working for years with the local consulate on this issue.

Having mismatching government identification leaves transgender people vulnerable to discrimination and could potentially limit their access to healthcare, housing, employment, or banking, Arangure said.

She hoped those years of advocacy will now make it much easier for the next generation of transgender people to obtain these types of documents.

“Now we are going to feel the freedom to show our passports or ID and say, this is me,” she said. “This is the real me.”

As they celebrated this accomplishment, the advocates said there is still much work left to do for transgender rights in both the United States and Mexico.

Montaño noted that violence against transgender women is still a serious issue in both countries.

“There are women who are not with us anymore,” she said. “We are doing it for them. And hope that life will be easier for other women in the future.”

Nearly 600 transgender people in Mexico were killed between 2008 and 2021, according to Transgender Europe — an advocacy group that tracks violence against the transgender community.

During the same time span, about 320 transgender people were killed in the United States, according to the group.