Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Finding your Voice, part 2: Andres

 December 20, 2023 at 8:00 AM PST

S1: Today's episode contains mentions of suicide and rape. Listener discretion is advised.

S2: You are listening to Port of Entry.

S1: If you've tuned in to any of our last four episodes , you'll realize that we are showcasing Lgbtiq+ stories of the border region. If you haven't , what are you waiting for ? Check them out now.

S2: Well , the first two episodes were stories about activism and fighting for LGBTQ rights. We are now featuring two stories of resilience.

S1: Specifically of finding one's voice within a sea of hostility. This episode is still in that vein , with one slight variation.

S2: The language we will be using in today's episode may be confusing for some members.

S3: Andrés Hernandez We may consider UN artista visual.

S1: Um Andres first popped up on our radar when Kpbs art and culture correspondent Julia Dixon Evans told us about the work of this queer border artist.

S2: Andres is an award winning visual artist and writer , and her main line of work is in illustration , photography and writing.

S1: Some of Andrea's work has been selected to join regional and national selections , like that of San Diego's Athenaeum Music and Art Festival and the Colloquium for Art and Gender of Mexicali. Her work is part of the archives of the prestigious library of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and Mexico City's Plataforma de imagenes. Contemporaneous.

S3: So una persona non binary mispronounce any lessons she or she heard or lay them in espanol.

S2: Andres is a trans non-binary person. That means Andres does not identify as male nor female.

S1: So Andres uses female and plural pronouns to refer to herself or they self. But for the sake of convenience , we'll stick to the female pronouns. Like the story we shared in the first part of this Finding Your Voice series , Andres has found it quite challenging to carve a space for herself in this downright hostile world , often feeling isolated and marginalized.

S2: Nevertheless , she has found an outlet. Today's episode is the second part of Finding Your Voice , about how individuals have resisted and have fought to find a space for themselves in this world.

S1: One through performance.

S4: And it was great because it was just kind of like feeling like I was tapping into this part of myself that I never was able to explore or express , given the environment that I was growing up in. You know , where I would always have to , I guess , police my femininity.

S2: And another through art and writing.

S3: A practical illustration in acrylics através de la cual es de ventas in Los diferentes experiencias Como una persona queer in Tijuana.

S2: This is part two , Andrés story from Kpbs.

S1: This is Port of Entry.

S2: Where we tell cross-border stories that connect us.

S1: I'm Alan Lilienthal.

S2: And I'm Natalia Gonzalez. But. We first met with Andrés in her home neighborhood of Playas , Tijuana , the coastal communities south of the border wall.

S1: We agreed to meet in a park a few blocks from the wall. It was a clear , warm day with a cool coastal breeze. Natalia.

S5: Natalia. Hello , Andrés.

S1: Andrés is a slim , soft spoken young person in her mid-twenties. She was sporting noise canceling headphones around her 80s looking mullet.

S2: Which I thought was pretty chic.

S1: And some loose and baggy clothes.

S2: We sat down on the park's gazebo to start our interview. Her body language was scrunched up , arms crossed , holding her elbows and feet pointing inward. And as we tried to get our first interview going , well , Tijuana.

S3: Historia sobre experiencia. We're in Tijuana. Um , através de was was.

S2: Just being. Tijuana.

S3: Tijuana.

S2: Almost felt like the city was doing this on purpose.

S3: La fotografia. Bueno. Okay.

S1: Okay. We waited a bit for the noise to settle down , but nope , the honks kept on blaring , so obviously we relocated and tried to start over.

S3: The nombre de nuevo. Okay.

S5: Oh my God.

S2: Like three times. And then relocate it again until we found a quieter spot in a bench in front of a little coffee shop that made us look like something out of a Wes Anderson flick. Okay.

S6: Okay. In tentando Grabar de nuevo aqui. You.

S5: You.


S6: Scene.

S5: Scene. Interruptions. Interruptions.

S2: Once we settled down , we resumed our interview.

S3: Soy artista visual en un principio médica mas oficial Como a la illustration in Armando.

S1: Andrés main line of work is visual. She's well known for creating small vignettes in which she depicts different events of her life from the mundane.

S3: Um , welcome to Miss Experiencia. See me sister. Entonces.

S2: So the very personal and emotional , her depictions mostly revolve around giving a color to the emotional states she finds herself in.

S3: Avenida diferentes caminos en Los programas Como de manera privada y también es siempre de la mano la lectura y la scriptura sobre todo pero. También un poco. Mas.

S1: Mas. These illustrations are usually accompanied by a short memo. She experimented with different types of prose , usually poetry , but she mentions that lately she's been writing essays.

S2: We moved on to ask what someone who is not familiar with her work with seeing her art pieces.

S3: El primer estilo. Desarrollado mas. Containers. Azul. Uh. Azul claro azul. Silo y eran bastante. No sé o eran mas lados hacia la tristeza. No la melancholia. La separation.

S2: Each work depicts the stage of her life she finds herself in.

S1: She mentioned that the color palette usually changes as her relationship or experiences change , like her recent breakup with her San Diego partner.

S2: Or the constant crossing back and forth between San Diego and Tijuana to see him.

S3: Entonces Los colors también cambiar on conforme a mis experiencias y hablando. También es una relation entre fronteras no mix Pareja Vivian , San Diego At the.

S1: Beginning of her career , she started using blues and has recently returned to using blue.

S2: Because , well , she's been feeling kind of blue.

S1: But she incorporated other colors like cream or warm pastel shades of brown and rose at different stages of her life.

S2: A few weeks later , we met Andrés for a second time. This time at our producers place , implies that Juan.

S1: Andrés opened up and shared some very personal things about her life. Um.

S3: Um. From an early age , I had an inclination to express myself in a more feminine way , and that doesn't necessarily have to do with the clothes I was wearing or the way that I was labeling myself. But it definitely had to do with the way that I carried myself and the way that I thought about myself in my own head. That being said , I think I was only able to allow myself and exist in an environment that allowed me to explore my gender until I was much older.

S1: So nevertheless , she was reared as a boy from a young age , which later on would have some adverse effects on her.

S3: I have a twin sister. I am Andres and she is Andrea , and it was a very interesting experience growing up with her. We used to be very close and we still are.

S2: And nowadays her twin sister is a member of her family. She mostly sees , though not that often.

S3: One of the most curious things is that we used to be dressed in almost the same outfits every time. My mom would literally like , choose outfits for us that were pretty much the same up until maybe we were eight. And then that's where I saw a shift in which she started having to dress more feminine , and I would have to stick to more masculine presenting stuff. And I think that was my first experience with. Noticing that there was something different , um , in the way that people treated me as opposed to her.

S1: That would not be the only time Andrés felt the full weight of the expectation placed on her. No matter how much she resisted , the barrage of expectations was constant.

S3: I wasn't really allowed to to grow my hair , to see its texture , to be able to explore with different hairstyles. It was pretty much always the same hairstyle. The we call it Cortez color in Mexico. That was just a really painful experience every time , because I remember wanting long hair so bad throughout my life , and just every time that I would go to a bar area , which is actually here in places called El Machos. Um , a very traditional kind of like border area. And so I would go there and I would just leave crying because I just couldn't recognize myself in the mirror as the person that I wanted to be.

S2: Just like her parents would insist that she needed to fit the roles assigned to her at birth.

S1: Those of a male boy.

S2: And it reached a tipping point when she came out as gay when she was 18 , during her last year of high school.

S3: There were some tears that were shed on my mom's behalf. My dad did question like , how do you know this ? How do you know ? And that at that moment I was coming out and.

S1: His parents tolerated her , but never accepted her fully for who she was. When she came out to them , she received a request that didn't sit well with her.

S3: But basically. My parents asked that I would hide the fact that I was queer from the rest of my family , not knowing that all my friends and also Andrea , my twin sister , already knew everything. Um , and yeah , that was the start of a year long. Mission to conceal my queerness from my family , even though I already had a lot of practice , because that's what I had been doing for most of my life.

S1: This request and her parents constant policing took its toll.

S2: She became anxious , insecure and withdrawn.

S1: The constant fighting and pressure to conform ultimately caused Andress to be estranged from her immediate family. There was little to no communication between them.

S2: And it is felt she didn't have any adult figure to trust or to turn to when she felt overwhelmed.

S1: A circumstance that led her to look for validation in the wrong places.

S2: Like a university professor with whom she got close to during her first year of college , just a few months after she came out to her parents.

S1: This professor promised Andrés to help launch her artistic career and give her a roof in case she needed a place to crash , since he was the only adult at that moment that was hearing Andrés , she trusted him.

S2: After all , this professor was 14 years older than Andrés , and Andrés was young , inexperienced and highly susceptible.

S3: Mrs. después cuando yo entro a la universidad por primera vez. So free. Una violation por parte de un officers.

S1: Months later , during one of their private encounters , he raped her.

S3: Esto es una de las personas por las nunca puede ser el a mis padres sobre el caso. No por el equipo de ellos me habian pedido a mis. He was my primary sexual violation. Yo no puede comunicar eso a ellos porque por el miedo tenia aqui dijeron no havia sido lo suficiente cuidados a. Como para eso nos era.

S2: Given the strained relationship with her parents , she was hesitant to share with them what happened.

S1: She was afraid that they would blame her for not being careful enough.

S2: For attracting that sort of attention , for not concealing her queerness enough.

S1: So she kept what happened to herself. This led Andrés on a downward spiral.

S3: And then there were a lot of also very self-destructive tendencies. It's not a healthy coping mechanism , but I definitely. Had to do that in order to cope with. The sexual assaults , and with the rejection from my family , I isolated. I. Had sex with a lot of strangers and I.

S1: Andress hit rock bottom to a point that she wanted a way out. And.

S8: And.

S9: Suicidal thoughts.


S3: Suicidal thoughts. Sorry. Um. Suicidality is something that I struggle with. I have struggle with a lot of times , like suicidal ideation. During the pandemic , I did have an attempt at it , but. Yeah , I don't know. I think it's something that queer people just struggle all around with. I don't know a single person who hasn't had at least a thought about ending their own life.

S2: Luckily enough , Andrés saw it.

S3: Light art was definitely one of the things that kept me alive during that time. I used to write a lot of poetry and just general diary entries. I don't know how to describe it , but it was just a vomit of words. Nothing very structured or anything , but a lot of poetry came out of it.

S1: Writing , illustrating and photography helped Andrés channel that pain into more positive outlets.

S2: Her poetry , illustrations and photo collages resonated with a lot of people.

S1: Some of whom started reaching out to her.

S3: What was different , I think , is that by documenting these experiences and reaching a lot of people through them , I was able to fill in the gaps from what I felt was missing in my family environment. So someone to validate my , validate me and relate to the experience that I , the experiences that I had gone through and not question me or police me or try to make me feel like I was guilty for the experiences that I went through. I've met a lot of friends. I met the San Diego art community , the Tijuana art community that was able to talk openly to other people. And other people definitely have opened up to me , and to an extent that hasn't fully put away. The self harm. There's still a lot that I struggle with , and there are periods in my life where it's really hard to not go back to that. But I think I'm getting better at it , and it's thanks to the people that I've met through my work that. I don't think I would have been able to meet them or reach them in any way had I not decided to share the pain that I had gone through.

S1: The community of folks that Andres met through her work eventually connected her with the LGBTQ plus community in San Diego and the LGBT center there.

S2: She recalls the first time she volunteered at the LGBT center.

S1: Something in her opened up.

S3: That's the first time that I remember people wearing nametags in which your name was provided , but also it was next to the piano. The pronouns that you would like to use or be referred to as. So I remember looking at that nametag and feeling the freedom to. I believe at first I gravitated towards the. Pronouns. She , her. It wasn't until later that I changed them to she they. But for me , that was the first instance in which I was not only allowed to explore , but was the first instance where I was even made aware that it was something that I could choose. I could choose how people refer to me.

S1: San Diego and the LGBT center proved to be a safe space for Andrés to drop her guard.

S2: Something she couldn't do back in Tijuana.

S1: We asked her if there was a palpable difference between being herself in San Diego , as opposed to Tijuana.

S3: It's a different relationship that I have with each city , and I wouldn't say necessarily that I feel more accepted in general by people in Tijuana than I do with people in San Diego. I don't know if it's a real sense of safety , but there's definitely more established spaces for queer people to just coexist and be in community with that. I don't see us often in Tijuana and of course , Tijuana being my hometown. So there's always someone that's gonna look at someone walking on the streets , and they'll know someone from your family or friends or someone from your work. And so I think that limits a lot of the way that you can just exist and go out and hold someone's hand in public , or be affectionate with someone in public , or dress a certain way that you want to. And when I am in San Diego , not only is my family not in near proximity to me , but the areas where you can go and you'll see a lot more of a diverse scene. It comes down to everything , right ? So even from the fact that I can take more walks over there and that's better for my mental health to the fact that here I have to think twice if I want to go outside because they just murdered someone down the street. And I want to just be cautious not to be walking around.

S2: Precaution and vigilance is super important for Andres when she is in Tijuana.

S1: She has to be mindful of always presenting in ways in which she doesn't stand out , or call attention or provoke any sort of threat.

S2: Especially after the recent killing of Özil by Anna in Mexico , the first openly non-binary Mexican magistrate.

S3: There is a fear that does follow every queer person that you'll be the next person to be found without , you know. To be found out in that way. So yeah , it's definitely something that permeates. And makes you think twice about every decision that you make. When it comes to how you decide to step outside and be dressed a certain way , or decide to dress more conservatively , or carry with you some pepper spray or grab your keys. Have them ready in a fist while you walk down the street.

S2: Her fear is not unfounded. A report by Transgender Europe.

S1: A nonprofit that monitors the statistics of transgender people all over the world.

S2: Revealed that Mexico is the second deadliest country for trans and gender diverse people in Latin America , surpassed only by Brazil.

S1: So walking down the street in Tijuana with a skirt , tank top and makeup as she did in San Diego.

S2: Out of the question.

S1: While being clearheaded about her personal identity , meant she's always mindful of how she presents her queerness in different spaces. It also raised questions about how to represent herself in the art world.

S2: So we asked her if she had ever drunk herself the way she wants to be seen.

S3: I've tried to. I've tried to do that , actually , but I never have. I've only illustrated myself like I've made illustrations and vignettes of myself in a more masculine perspective way. But I do think that my through my style and through my color choices , my feminine or my nonbinary ways do translate well on paper. When I was doing illustration , mainly , I even had shorter hair so we could draw myself with short hair and and I had a much more limited wardrobe. I would also just , I would just draw what was real at that moment , what was exactly how it was. So there was never this sort of like imagined. Version of myself because I still don't know. I still am very unsure as to what. A version of me that I'm 100% happy with looks like. I think I still need to try a lot of things.

S1: Andres has gradually transformed herself into the person she perceives herself to be.

S2: She confessed that if she had the cash , she would undergo gender affirming hormone therapy.

S3: I still have a lot of questions to ask myself as to how I want to evolve as a person and make changes to my body , made changes to who I am , but I'm taking it pretty slow. So for now , I think non-binary is trans. Non-binary is the label that I feel the most comfortable with , but that can also always shift. But there's definitely some things that I would like to change about myself. Um , I don't know. I definitely want a more feminine face , but that's like facial feminization surgery is like really expensive. I would also like to start hormones. I still don't know which kind yet because there's different types. There's a more a newer one where the development of breasts is not necessary because I still don't know if I want that , but it's just like questions that I have to ask myself. And because of my family history and my trauma , it's taken a lot of time to figure these things out because I still don't. I don't feel like I had the time to reflect on them yet , but everyone has their own pace , I think.

S1: Port of entry will be back after a short commercial break.

S2: You are listening to Port of Entry.

S1: When Andres met with our producer Elias again , she was wearing her signature headphones over her mullet and carrying a tote bag full of her work.

S3: Si muchas cosas um mas me trabajo aqui in me militar. Um so says Trigo , Como dismissiveness. No sé mucho esto Como una mesa porque hay mucho viento.

S1: She pulled out a plastic accordion folder with numerous illustrations and collages.

S6: Mosaics and photos to.

S5: Algunas what.

S2: Cutter producers attention was a small graphic novel sitting over the pile of her work.

S3: Bueno , basicamente fue durante la pandemia para publica este libro um relacionado con la l l cruciform Teresa in Tijuana.

S5: Pero the illustrations.

S2: Were the pastel colored vignettes she was referring to when we first met. Andrés wrote and illustrated this graphic book during the pandemic as a part of a collaboration with the Women's Studio Workshop.

S1: A nonprofit dedicated to encouraging the voice and vision of women and trans , intersex , non-binary and gender fluid artists. It's now part of the Met's collection in New York. The comic book , or Zien , is titled We used to move through the City Like doves in the wind. It includes beautiful depictions of young love on both sides of the border , accompanied by tender mementos of love and longing.

S2: Our producer asked about the young black men depicted at many points in the graphic novel book.

S3: No era me pareja the cuatro anos. De si acabamos de. Terminal.

S2: Neville is the ex she had just broken up with.

S1: Rose brown and blue hues spread in each little page to give life to this lovely little book. She started reading.

S3: On March 20th , 2020. The US Mexican border , the most heavily trafficked land port of entry in the world.


S3: The US Mexican border , the most heavily trafficked land port of entry in the world , was closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Unable to quarantine in the same household. Families , friends and lovers were indefinitely separated. The wind drags my tears down to the corners of my mouth , where I let them rest so they can populate my tongue with sand. I think about when I was younger , how I used to run from my parents home all the way to this beach , all the way to this brown fence that rose to mark the limits of my country. This fence keeps growing taller.

UU: Making space for more names. Oh. Gracias.

S6: Gracias. Hola.

S5: Hola. Mucho gusto. Which means that we still see this.

S2: At one final meeting between Andres and our producer , Julio. They met at a little cafe in place.

S1: Andrés brought her twin sister with her. They often meet at this cafe to catch up and eat conchas.

S3: E Andrea fois la primera persona che sentido también todavia. Entonces me Como mucho. Burke.

S5: Burke.

S3: Tiene I siempre. And.

S1: Their bond was evident.

S2: Andrea's eyes beamed with tender care as Andrés spoke.

S1: Andrés had failed to mention a crucial thing in our previous meetings.

S2: Andrea was a bright light during Andrés darkest days.

S11: Si , si lo tengo todavia esta siempre. Cuando tengo amigas in me cuarto oh so familia. Siempre siempre dicen Luis Andres super bonito y eso.

S2: Andrea has always believed in Andrés , believed in Andrés talent , believed her when she said she was gay. Believed her when she said she was nonbinary and believed Andrés when she said she was raped.

S1: Most importantly , Andrea believed in who Andrés said she was. Andrea was one of the first , if not the very first , to buy an art piece from Andres , something Andrea still proudly displays in her apartment and receives many compliments for her.

S2: She's proud of Andrés and the person she has become.

S11: Yo la verdad cuando fui a su galleria in Oceanside a la verdad. Estaba increible. Todo o sea. Poder ver otras personas bien. Lo lo maravilloso su trabajo y. A point su Carrera.

S1: At many points during the conversation between our producer and them , and the rest was moved from hearing her sister speak. She got a bit teary eyed.

S11: Gustaria este ? Aprender un poco mas este es un poco mas. Pero si me siento super. Tenido muchas oportunidades demostrar su trabajo Y. También me me papas give me styles pueden ver lo es. Super incredible.

S2: San Andreas is the full dimension of Andrés as a person , as communicated through her work.

S1: Andres is only hope is that eventually the rest of her family can see what her sister sees. If you or anyone you know is a rape survivor , please reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline at one 806 564673. Help is available. If you are in Tijuana or Baja. Contact Red Ibero-American Pro Derechos Humanos at 5216643747223.

S2: If you're anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts , please dial 908 for help. You are worth it. Your life is worth it. Producers.

S12: Producers. Note before we leave , we wanted to leave you with a full excerpt of. We used to move through the city like doves in the wind. Enjoy.

S3: On March 20th , 2020 , the US Mexican border , the most heavily trafficked land port of entry in the world , was closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Unable to quarantine in the same household. Families , friends and lovers were indefinitely separated. The wind drags my tears down to the corners of my mouth , where I let them rest so they can populate my tongue with sand. I think about when I was younger , how I used to run from my parents home all the way to this beach , all the way to this brown fence that rose to mark the limits of my country. This fence keeps growing taller , making space for more names to be written on it. The names of the lost , the dead. The names of mothers and fathers and children and lovers. Lovers just like us. Separated by the doings of those whose understanding of the world does not fit. Tenderness. So many things have changed. And I've changed with them. But the border remains.

S5: And Andrea.

S13: Is the beginning. And this is what we get.

S3: In an ideal world , there would be no limits to who I could be. Or the things I could do. No limits to the places I could call home. Life now feels like holding your breath in for too long. It's strange to remember how much I enjoyed my own company as a child , how I'd spent hours on end in the pool , head underwater along with my thoughts. I've had a pretty fucking hard time without you. I'm sad and tired for the most part. It terrifies me to look back and count how many days have gone by since this all began. These days , I've been scared to acknowledge the imperfect nature of my body. I've been scared to see face to face with my bad habits. And the way they keep turning the circles around my eyes darker. I've grown used to the lingering company of hunger so much I can barely feel the pit in my stomach anymore. I paint my stories on a borrowed mattress laid out on the floor of my room. In this room , I listen to the sounds of my city. The barking of the dogs on the hills , the mechanics music , the straight couple fighting next door. I think about my mother and I see myself in her. I contemplate forgiveness , and I'm met with admiration for the women in my screen , for their voices and their words and their ways of navigating the mundane. I've taught myself to be more like them , to be more like the moon , to accept my waning and waxing , to hold it all in and then release , to move on , to let new things in. With the early morning cold on the tiles underneath my feet. I look at myself without you and hate the empty space around my waist. The space your arms would so often occupy. I miss our rounds to the beach , our conversations in bed , our trips to the Royal market. I miss when we would dance and laugh and be so much ourselves that people would stare. And I'd say they were probably just annoyed. You'd say they couldn't help looking at how beautiful we were together.

S2: This episode of Port of Entry was written and produced by Julio Cesar Ortiz.

S14: Adrian Lobos is technical.

S1: Producer and sound designer. Alissa Barba is our editor.

S2: Lisa morissette is director of audio programming and operations , and John Decker is senior director of content development.

S1: This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting , a private corporation funded by the American people.

S2: This project was also made possible with the support from California Humanities , a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit call home. Org.

S14: Soy Alan Lilienthal.

S2: Yo soy Natalie Gonzalez.

S7: Nos vemos. Pronto.

Hola Friends!

We are almost done showcasing LGBTQ+ stories of the region. In this edition, we talk to Andres Hernandez, a Non-Binary Writer and visual artist from Tijuana. She retells the story of how art helped her cope with the difficult realities of being queer in Tijuana and shares part of her struggles of coming out to her family and figuring out who she is.

You won't want to miss this uplifting story of resilience!

Nos vemos pronto!

If you or anyone you know is a rape survivor please reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. If you are in Tijuana, contact Red Iberoamericana Pro derechos humanos at +52 1 664 374 7223

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts please dial 988 for help.


Follow Andres and her work
andrés hernández
If you would like to support Andres consider buying some of her work.


Port of Entry has a whole new set of stories for you, this time centered around LGBTQ+ issues.

This season we dive with our guests on what it means to be queer in the borderlands, finding yourself and fighting for your rights.

Follow hosts Natali Gonzalez and Alan Lilienthal as they sit down with these fascinating people who share their stories. Listen in and join us!

If you like this episode, show us some love @portofentrypod

From KPBS and PRX, “Port of Entry” tells cross-border stories that connect us. More stories at

Find us on Facebook at

Find us on Instagram

or at

Support our show at Search “Port of Entry” in the gifts section to get our sling bag as a thank-you gift.

If your business or nonprofit wants to sponsor our show, email

Feedback is a gift. Text or call the "Port of Entry" team at 619-500-3197 anytime with questions or comments about the show. Email us at

“Port of Entry'' is written, produced and directed by Julio C. Ortiz Franco.

Adrian Villalobos is our Technical Producer and Sound Designer.

Alisa Barba is our editor.

Lisa Morrisette-Zapp is Director of Audio Programming and Operations and John Decker is the Director of Content Development.

This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.