they, them, theirs
I am a 26-year-old Chicane from South Central Los Angeles. I transitioned to a non-binary identity at age 22 after taking a college course titled "Trangender Identities and Communities". I learned a language to define who I am and to affirm an identity I'd experienced my entire life. I earned a journalism degree at San Francisco State University and use it to write stories about marginalized communities such as mine. My mother used to do garment work for 20 years until she decided she couldn't endure the industry's work conditions anymore. She now sells Mary Kay cosmetics. Her work impacted my upbringing and perspective of the world. We relied on government assistance growing up and I hardly saw my mom because she worked long hours. I enjoy spending time outdoors. In high school, a couple of park rangers would take inner-city youth to the forest to experience nature. These were important opportunities for me to get out of the house. My mobility was excessively restricted being socialized as a girl. My dad would not let me go out unsupervised and I resented this. Although I now identify as non-binary, being socialized as a girl significantly marked my life experience. One important memory I hold is wanting to play soccer in my after-school program. I wasn't very good at soccer and wanted to learn, but the boys who played alienated me. The teacher who was a man didn't intervene and I decided to pursue another activity. I think of this memory as proof of how educational settings are some of our first exposures to cisnormativity and heteronormativity. Recently I taught English in a 6th-grade classroom as a long-term substitute teacher. I introduced myself to teachers and students as Mx.Alma.
About the collage series: During the pandemic and under stay-at-home orders, I’ve been struggling with my mental health, memory and sense of self. This collage series honors this experience. All images in the collage series are personal photos I shot, except those taken of me and the screenshot of a text conversation. I quit my job in January to protect my mental health and haven’t found employment since the pandemic surged. Witnessing and experiencing the world through isolation as a poor, queer, trans, anxious and first-generation person is overwhelming. Sometimes I feel afraid and I forget who I am or my place in the world. Sometimes I feel brave and I remember who I’m becoming and how I can connect.