Queer community mourns passing of trailblazing trans Latinx activist Lorena Borjas following COVID-19 diagnosis

Tributes have been made to the legendary trans activist Lorena Borjas following her passing on Monday morning.

Lorena Borjas

The ‘Mother of the Trans Latinx community’ in Queens, Lorena Borjas, tragically passed away at the age of 59 on Monday morning, March 30th, after being diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Legendary trans activist, Lorena Borjas, has left a lasting impression upon her hometown of Queens. Throughout the past 30 years, she advocated for transgender, sex worker and immigrant communities. She would home women who were stigmatised and exiled by their families in her apartment until they were able to support themselves.

Borjas set up a HIV-testing program for trans sex workers, launched her own legal fund to assist Latinx LGBT+ community members, and served as a counselor for the Counselor for the Community Healthcare Network’s Transgender Family Program in Queens. She became known in the area as the ‘Mother of the Trans Latinx community.’

In 2019, Borjas was honoured as New York Woman of Distinction in the State Senate. On the honoree profile page, it reads, “Dedicated to her cause, and as part of her ongoing commitment to the LGBT communities, Ms Borjas began promoting and focusing aid on transgender women, Latina sex workers, and people co-dependent on alcohol and psychotropic substances. Since then, her efforts and leadership on these issues have impacted and influenced various spaces of the Latinx LGBT community.”

Due to Borjas’ commitment to providing support for marginalised communities, her passing is felt deeply throughout the queer community. One person shared on Twitter, “Is very sad to wake up this morning and know that one of the trans rights activists in NYC has lost the battle against #Coronavirus. I am speechless, #LorenaBorjas, thank u for everything u did for the community and for the impact you have had on the lives of many, including me.” 

The person further wrote, “Thank you for your support when I most needed it.  Rest in peace Chingona, Mother, Fighter! Leader!!!! Today will be a very sentimental and heavy day for many of us.”  

Another person wrote on Twitter, “You leave us orphaned but your memory and your legacy will remain forever. Our entire trans latina, migrant and sex worker community is in mourning. I was one of your many trans daughters. Seguiremos luchando como unas perras porque asi nos enseñaste. Rest in power.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, Peppermint, shared a short documentary titled Queens Stories: The Story of Lorena Borjas: The Transgender Latina Activist along with the caption, “Today we lost another icon… #LorenaBorjas. Rest in Power.”

US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed, “Heartbroken to share that #LorenaBorjas, a prolific trans organizer and Queens activist, passed away from COVID-19. Lorena championed mutual aid in the LGBT+ community, and her Community Fund was saving lives of queer people and immigrants impacted by COVID.”

On March 17, Loreana Borjas set up the Transgender Emergency Fund 101 in the hopes of supporting trans people who are facing precarious financial situations. The Go Fund Me page reads, “Please support the community during this uncertain time. We know that times are tough for everyone right now, for which we appreciate donations of all sizes. No amount is small.”

Senator Jessica Ramos posted on Twitter, “We lost my friend, Latina transfeminist #LorenaBorjas to the battle against COVID-19. She did an incredible job in our community for trans women and sex workers. May she rest in peace and power.”

Lorena Borjas forever changed the queer Latinx community in Queens by empowering those around her. She has left a lasting legacy which is felt throughout the world, inspiring others on how to move forward and bring about monumental change.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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