Latina Transgender Advocate Bamby Salcedo on Youth and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education

As part of our support for the media coverage around Chaz Bono’s casting on “Dancing with the Stars” and an increasing amount of transgender-specific coverage in general, GLAAD is continuing to profile prominent transgender advocates and members of the community on a weekly basis. Previously, we spoke with Laverne Cox, Jamison Green, Ph.D., Stephanie Battaglino and Mari Rosenberger, and Noah Lewis. This week, we talked to Bamby Salcedo about her advocacy work with transgender youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

As an advocate, Bamby has been involved with several organizations over the years. After being diagnosed as HIV positive more than 15 years ago, Bamby joined the Los Angeles-based Latino AIDS advocacy group, Bienstar Human Services, where she worked as a staff member for six years. She has since been serving as a board member for the national Latino/a human rights organization, Unid@s LGBT, and the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC). Bamby also runs the Coalición Trans-Latina, a group of transgender Latin@ leaders from around the country working to address and advocate for the needs of trans Latin@s living in the United States. The group, which was formed in 2009, works particularly close with those who are monolingual Spanish speaking. In her own words, Bamby said the group “is working very hard to make sure that our issues are heard and to let the world know that we do exist.”

In addition to her other advocacy work, Bamby is the Project Coordinator of the Harm Reduction Project and the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Bamby works specifically with African American and Latin@ transgender youth through the Center for Strengthening Youth Prevention Paradigms (SYPP Center), which focuses on HIV prevention and education. Her latest project is the Division’s “Angels of Change” 2012 Calendar. Angels of Change is a fundraising activity that helps provide medical services and hormonal treatments for transgender youth in Los Angeles through the sale of calendars. The annual calendar and an accompanying runway show provide visibility for a community that rarely has the opportunity to make itself known. You can purchase the 2012 Calendar for a donation of $10 here.

As a Latina transgender woman, Bamby has faced and overcome many struggles in her life. “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done within the trans community,” she tells GLAAD. “We need to raise awareness with our politicians and policy makers. There is still a lot of denial from society about the existence of our community. We need to raise awareness and bring consciousness about…who we are, what are the things that need to be addressed. But we cannot do it alone; we need everyone to be on the same page, politicians, churches, schools, businesses, just our society as a whole needs to learn and understand that we are here to stay.” Addressing transgender youth who may be dealing with issues around their identity and a lack of opportunity, Bamby says, “My only advice is that we recognize that as a community we are very strong, and as individuals we are also very strong. Do not lose your strength, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t be who you want to be. As long as you follow your heart, as long as you don’t harm yourself or anyone in your process, whatever this may be… understand that as an individual you are unique, and your uniqueness is what ensures your place in this world.

GLAAD thanks Bamby for taking the time to speak with us and for her exceptional work as an advocate for transgender and HIV/AIDS affected youth.