Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Interview with Arianna Lint

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Arianna Lint, a native of Peru. Arianna is a transgender activist and advocate from Florida, and is the Director of SunServe's Transgender Services Department, and co-president of Translatin@ Coalition. Hello Arianna!
Arianna: Hello Monika and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on your blog; I am honored.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Arianna: I am a very happy and blessing person at this time of my life.
Monika: What is the goal of Translatin@ Coalition?
Arianna: Our goal and mission are to advocate for the specific needs of Trans Latin@ immigrants who reside in the US and plan advocacy strategies that would improve our quality of life.

Monika: For many years you have been dealing with transgender advocacy. What are the current challenges for transgender people in the USA?
Arianna: I’m proud to be transgender, but it is not easy. However, I do feel that we have a tremendous impact on everyone in the United States and around the world. I do believe that the time is right for us as a community, to make our voices heard. Change is upon us, especially in the United States where we see acceptance from the likes of Miss Universe; Dancing with the Stars featured a transgender celebrity as one of their participants.
Recently an Oscar was awarded to an actor who portrayed a cross-dressing character in the movie, ‘Dallas Byers Club.’ These are just a few examples of the impact we are making as a community, which inspires me to represent our community, have our voices heard while demonstrating how proud we are to be who we are.
Monika: Recently I have read one article stating that transgender people in the USA struggle with some of the lowest rates of acceptance, even within the LGBT community. In addition, only 2 percent of transgender Americans can boast a full-time job and benefits…
Arianna: That’s correct, Monika! Currently, only 5% of the transgender community living in the United States has decent jobs and benefits, we have to change that! We are part of the world community, we exist, and we need respect and dignity! We have to educate the broader community about the Transgender community before someone passes judgment on us. We are SURVIVORS!
Did you know that there is no federal law to protect us? There are 33 states where you can be FIRED for being transgender! On July 15th I am excited to travel to Washington DC for ‘Transgender Lobby Day’ at the White house. We need more laws to protect us.

Courtesy of Arianna Lint.

Monika: The situation is even worse in the case of transgender immigrants coming to the USA…
Arianna: Monika you are amazing with your questions!!! Yes, it is worse! We have a lot of discrimination and a lack of understanding about gender identity, for immigrants who are transgender.
GENDER IDENTITY has to be included in immigration reform. Since 2005 my immigration status is “NAME WITHHOLDING and REMOVED”, which is similar to almost all transgender immigrants. What this means is that while I (we) are allowed to work in the United States, we cannot claim residency which puts transgender immigrants at a disadvantage.
As the law stands now, there are no options to change my status. This means I have to renew my license and my work permit every year, even while I pay taxes, like any other citizen of the United States.
Translatina Coalition just participated in a study with the University of Minnesota on Transgender Immigration: this important study will provide real-life examples of what transgender immigrants face when coming to the United States and how we can create awareness and change. The study is available online at
Monika: Your story could be regarded as a success story. Which elements of your personal experience could be used by other trans immigrants?
Arianna: I am proud of my Peruvian heritage and at an early age I learned how the ‘INKAS’ guided us to strive for a perfect society; work hard and be trustworthy. Three words that I identify within “Quechua” are:
- Ama llulla (don’t be a liar) I am who am I; I never liar to anybody about myself and my gender identity;
- Ama quella (don’t be lazy) Work Hard, I regardless of someone bigotry and hatred;
- Ama Sua (don’t steal) Never take advantage or steal, even when being mistreated.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Arianna: When I was six years old, I remember watching Miss Brazil on TV present Roberta Close, Brazilian transgender who wanted to participate in Miss Brazil, but was not allowed to participate because she was Transgender. When I saw her on TV, I knew that I wanted to be like her, she was m role model!
As I have grown older, my role model is my best friend Monica Roberts. Monica writes a Transgriot blog and has helped open my eyes to the reality facing the transgender community in the United States. Personally, I think we need to have more TRANGENDER ROLES MODELS so that others in the community can feel comfortable and have someone to talk to on a regular basis. We are not what people think about us, we are great individuals, we are great daughters, we are great workers and that’s very important.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Arianna: At first, the hardest part of coming out was internal. How to accept myself and own who I am in a world that is not accepting, which is difficult when you realize who you really are.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Peruvian society?
Arianna: One of the reasons that I left Peru was because I did not feel safe, even after 14 years, there is still no change. Transgender and the LGBT community people have no rights in Peru. Inclusion is not acceptable in Peru.
Currently, there is a nationwide discussion on how to blog Civil Unions in Peru. The climate for equality in Peru is difficult, almost nonexistent. In Peru, homosexuality is still considered a psychological disease. This is why it is so important for the United States, and other welcoming countries to accept us as immigrants!
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Arianna: Vice-president Biden is on record of saying that Transgender is a Civil right! I am truly believed it is more of that, it is about human rights! There is a part of society that thinks being Transgender is like being a second-class citizen, that is wrong! The law should reflect the needs of everyone, just not a select few.
Monika: A few weeks ago Jared Leto received his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" as transgender Rayon. What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Arianna: While I respect Jared Leto's talents as an actor, the role he represented in the film, was Hollywood’s interpretation of what the industry thinks who we are. It is great that Hollywood brought trans issues to the public, but the public is better served with an accurate portrayal of what it is really like to be a Transgender individual. The story would have had more impact if the role was played by a transgender actress.

Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities? Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Arianna: Yes, the ‘T’ is now being recognized! Even within the LGBT community, we are seeing opportunities to educate and be heard. This year at the annual LGBT conference on ‘Creating Of Change’ Transgender was characterized as SEXY’s and POWER in reference to our community! The president of the Translatina Coalition won the longevity award of service to the transgender community!
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Arianna: Socrates once said, “to be human is to be political.” Each one of us has their own politics, I am no different. For me, being political means representing my transgender community to help foster change, understanding, and acceptance. I am excited to attend the White House Lobby Day for ENDA (Employment No Discrimination Act) on July 15, 2014.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Arianna: The love I receive and give to my family is the most important part of my life. Yes, love is important, but in order to understand love, we first must learn to love and understand ourselves.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Arianna: I Love fashion… All girls love fashion! Yet, what is most important for our community is to learn how and when to dress for specific occasions. In my role at SunServe, I take great pride in helping other individuals in our community on looking great according to the moment. It’s good to be fabulous!
I love all brands especially Carolina Herrera. I love her classic style, very feminine! My colors are according to my mood, can be white, or can be black, and when I am in love, my favorite color is red.

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Arianna: I am in the process of writing my memoirs; my dream is to finish my book soon which will be inclusive of my personal story of being transgender and all the issues for Girls Like ME!! 
Monika: Are you working on any new project now?
Arianna: As the Director of Transgender services for SunServe, I am focusing my attention on developing transgender service; the name of my program is s “Surviving & Threading” specializing in Advocacy: Training and Education; Case management (face to face); Mental Health; Support Groups. More info at
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Arianna: Be who you are, search out individuals who are supportive, and remember that being transgender is not easy, but being who you are is the most important part of one’s life.
Monika: Arianna, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Arianna Lint.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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