The struggle transgender women face in San Antonio

By Ruby Peguero

The city of San Antonio is known for its historic sites, the Riverwalk, and overall being a city of vibrant history. San Antonio remains the most visited city within Texas welcoming approximately 34 million visitors annually. Amid the backdrop of San Antonio’s vibrant culture and attractions, a deeply concerning issue persists – the pervasive plague of discrimination against women, particularly transgender women. 

This intersectional discrimination highlights the compounded challenges faced by transgender minorities, who often bear the brunt of systemic biases and social prejudices. Rather than enjoying the city’s offerings freely, transgender women are often subject to hostility and danger due to their gender identity. What is even more distressing is how transgender minorities are targeted by lawmakers and media outlets, further amplifying these systemic issues. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 84 percent of victims of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people are people of color. In the past year, the Senate has passed multiple bills taking away gender-affirming care and banning schools’ “woke” agendas. One goes as far as sending parents to jail for allowing their children to receive gender-affirming care. This year, Texas lawmakers enacted legislation prohibiting puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender children. The new legislation also makes it a felony for healthcare practitioners to give transgender operations to people under the age of 26. Schools may no longer be permitted to use pronouns that refer to a student’s biological sex, and any adult may be arrested if they knowingly allow a person under the age of 18 to have a transition surgery. These bills don’t merely infringe on the basic human rights of transgender women, but also dramatically increase the risk of mental health challenges contributing to a higher likelihood of suicide within this population. This combination of legislative assaults and societal prejudice places an enormous burden on transgender women, leaving them to navigate a world where their identities are constantly invalidated and their well-being jeopardized. 

In 2020, San Antonio itself faced a 22 percent increase in homicide rates – with two trans women being murdered in the last two years. However, because the SAPD does not specifically track the murders of transgender people, they told KSAT news, we are not aware of the correct murder rate. Without being aware of the exact number of trans lives taken, one can only assume the murder rate to be significantly higher than what officials may claim. This contributes to the persisting issues trans women face as their lives are dismissed by the SAPD. In 2017, Kenne McFadden, a black-trans woman, drowned after being pushed in the San Antonio Riverwalk. On May 6, 2020, Helle Jae O’Regan, a 20-year-old transgender woman was killed in the city of San Antonio by Damion Terrell Campbell who fatally stabbed her in the “safety” of her workplace. Joan Simoncelli, a trans woman in her 60s, filed a complaint against Bexar County after being placed in the male unit of jail where she was abused and harassed by both inmates and sheriff deputies. This was after being placed in jail for making “false reports to a police officer” after she told officers her life was threatened by her nephew. With these cases, how many more are we unaware of? How many women have been dismissed? The rates may seem low, but we can never truly know the actual rate of murders of transgender people within the city of San Antonio until they get the attention they deserve. With as much historical value as the city of San Antonio holds it should continue to work toward a better and more accepting future rather than staying in the past. 

As we consider the vibrant and diverse cityscape of San Antonio, it’s crucial to recognize the stark contrast that exists for transgender women and gender-nonconforming people. By shedding light on these deeply concerning issues, we can work towards fostering an environment where everyone can experience the city’s attractions without the looming threat of discrimination and violence. Despite the lack of attention to genderqueer communities, there are organizations to work for a better future in the city of San Antonio such as Women In Transition where trans women meet weekly to give support to each other, the San Antonio Gender Association which works as a support group to the trans community, as well as many other advocacy groups dedicated to providing a safer tomorrow.  As of now the main solution San Antonio has given has been providing resources for support groups, yet much more can be done to bring light to these issues. Educating the public on the discrimination in place against trans women can bring light to an issue that is not spoken about enough whether it comes to reaching out to a stranger or even protesting to reveal the true rate of transgender homicides within the city. It all starts with one voice to create major change and it is up to the communities within San Antonio to advocate for a better tomorrow by taking the initiative to create a safe future for everyone. Advocacy, education, and fostering empathy are all vital steps toward creating a San Antonio that truly lives up to its reputation as a welcoming and inclusive destination for all.


Hi! My name is Ruby. I am an ambassador for WIP from Devine, TX and I am a 16-year-old sophomore! I am passionate about politics because I want to create change as a Hispanic woman to create equal opportunities for everyone whose voices are silenced every day.

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