Becoming Joanna: The struggles of a Latina Trans Girl

Becoming Johanna, is the the story of a 17 year old Latina trans girl and the issues she had to deal with regarding her transition. TLBG youth are extremely at risk, and unlike many kids, a significant percentage cannot count on the support and protection of their families.  Just watching my child negotiate White supremacy in the last 4 years, I know that the ability to come home and be embraced and accepted for who he is makes a large difference in his self esteem, and ability to feel safe.  No child should ever feel unsafe in their own home, and it is an absolute betrayal and denial of parental responsibility to treat TLBG children as if they are damaged. 

Johanna’s religious mother, had her daughter committed to stop her from transitioning.  I cannot begin to imagine the harm that this must have caused.  We live in a society where we are taught that a mother’s love is unconditional however, in many cases, when it comes to an TLBG child, this is not the case.

The Youth and Gender Media Project have created a series of films specifically to highlight gender non conforming youth.  Their other documentaries include, The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children and I’m Just Anneke.

From the Youth and Gender Media Project: 

The films introduce radical new concepts for many audiences, from the very idea that a young child can be transgender and have the wherewithal to fight against the pressures to conform to a binary gender paradigm, to the new and still very rare use of hormone blockers to delay puberty. However, since the films are structured around universal themes such as parenting and acceptance, identity and difference, growing up and coming of age, tolerance, love and self-esteem, they remain accessible and deeply moving even to people who are resistant to the idea of transgender youth.

This series is an absolute good, and if it helps even one child who is at risk, it is something we should all promote.  Not all children are equally loved or valued, and it is time we stop presenting this mendacious myth to help those who need us.  


(note: throughout the entire, the scenes switch back and forth between Joanna participating in a fashion show and Joana sitting in what looks to be a living room with her mother.)

Johanna: When I was young, I played with barbies, barbie dolls.  Dolls to me were like something I was collecting – something that I was interested in when I was little.  They were like my friends I guess.  You know I didn’t have an imaginary friend, I had dolls.  Like I would role play and talk or in my mind I would be the girl and then somebody else would be the boy; nobody actually knows that. Biologically I’m a boy, but I’m a girl, I was just born as a boy.     

Saray (Johanna’s mom): It was hard because I just wasn’t into it.  I had to get used to it.  The first time I say Joanna wearing a blouse and lipstick, I remember that I stay far away and I was like OMG.  I wanted to call her Joanna but I couldn’t. 

Johanna: When I first started to realize that I wanted to be a girl was probably when I was leaving middle school. 

Saray: I was like maybe I was accused or maybe you joking.  I didn’t take it serious you know.  I just let it go.

Johanna: I’ve been on hormones for two months.  It’s been going good.  You get tenderness at first in your chest.  I stopped – I don’t know if I have to explain all of that. Do I, do I really?  My skin got nicer. 

Saray: First thing were the prayers and then all of the therapist that we visit. There were many.

Johanna: She sent me to the mental hospital;  that was horrible.

Saray: I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared.

Johanna: I was there for three days.  Well right now, I’m trying to finish my school.  I’m just worried about the money.  I don’t know it’s like school is very expensive and I want to go to college and get my rent and stuff.

Moderator:  Do you hope that she will change back?

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