Lives on the Line: Volunteer Spotlight
My name is Adriel Rodriguez, I’m the volunteer coordinator at Trans Lifeline, and I sat down with Angela Cristobal to take us deep into her life experience and well-being practices. I invite you to join us monthly in reading interviews and more of what we hope can be a resource for anyone experiencing similar challenges.
Angela Cristobal (she/her) is an LA County Public Health Research Project Interviewer and she has volunteered as a research volunteer. She is a proud trans Latina woman from North Hollywood, California.
How do you define well-being?
Being in a good headspace, being able to communicate what it is that you are feeling to other people and knowing that they are going to be there to listen to you, to offer advice, or to offer words of encouragement.
What is vital to your well-being these days?
It’s about being in the present and keeping in mind that what I am currently experiencing is temporary. One thing I have to do for my well-being is… I have to get off of social media. On social media we are fed a lot of fantasy, a lot of unattainable realities for some of us. It’s not very real or genuine. One thing that is keeping me grounded is keeping connected with close friends, having conversations with my mom, being present in my nieces and nephews life and trying to set a good example for them.
In your opinion, what are the social issues that have impacted the well-being of trans people?
We’ve always had the short end of the stick. Our community has not been thought about in many of the social sectors. When it comes to education, we don’t really have access to education. This is connected with having your legal name change, having access to transportation, and financial means to do these things.
COVID, as an issue, has significantly impacted the trans community in L.A. because trans organizations used to provide some sanctuary, validating folks by providing a place to be, food banks, and overall support. People now are being pushed away from these in-person things, left with no one to communicate with.
I also think it’s important to think about the barriers to accessibility to COVID testing.
When you get tested for COVID you may need to have a car for some testing sites in L.A. Our community tends to rely heavily on public transportation. On top of having to go to a physical place, also having to fill out forms online beforehand. Not everyone has access to the Internet, and even then there can be a language barrier. It’s not to say that different counties have not provided this in various languages, but not all.
There is not a lot of accessible education about COVID for trans people because our community is an afterthought and not given focus. In particular, trans women, although we are in a pandemic, they may still engage in sex work. Who is to say that they have access to health care, a doctor that respects them and listens to their concerns about their well-being and health.
Do you have a call to action for the community?
Connect with the community. The trans community makes time to connect with each other no matter how hard things get. Talk to someone who is rooting for you and wishing for you to succeed. Turn to the community.