MEXICO CITY – A Mexican trans woman says she is planning to open her country’s first retirement home for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The president of the “Laetus Vitae” (Joyous Life) civil association, Samantha Flores, said the project was aimed at eradicating inequality and discrimination and lending visibility to the problems LGBT individuals face when they become senior citizens.
“The elderly adult has to go back into the closet to be accepted,” Flores told EFE in Mexico City, saying she is confident that 400,000 pesos ($21,160) would allow her to keep the facility open for one year.
Although she acknowledges that it will be difficult to raise that sum of money through donations, she hopes that at least she will be able to rent an apartment to house 30 elderly adults.
The project will function initially as a free-of-charge “day home” but the idea is to offer medical and residential services typical of an assisted-living facility and for similar establishments to be set up in other states.
The 85-year-old Flores, who was born Vicente in Orizaba, a town in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, said that if elderly people in general are neglected by institutions and their own families, “LGBT senior citizens don’t even exist.”
The LGBT rights activist said she maintained her male appearance for 38 years “out of respect” for her father but became Samantha after he passed away, despite being aware that that decision would cause her to lose friends and family and not knowing how she would support herself.
Flores said that she moved to Mexico City after winning a car in a raffle and met two men who introduced her to other members of the LGBT community and helped her find work at bars and hotels.
In 2016, she legally changed her name to Samantha Aurelia Vicenta Flores Garcia.
She criticized Mexican society for making it “dangerous for the (LGBT) community to go out on the street,” although she said she had never been physically harmed or verbally harassed and as a youth never felt judged in her own home, where her father simply treated her as one of his daughters.
(At least 202 murders of members of the LGBT community occurred between 2014 and 2016 in Mexico, a rate of nearly six homicides per month, with female trans individuals bearing the brunt of the violence, the non-governmental organization Letra S said in a report earlier this year based on media monitoring.)
Flores said that although there is greater sexual freedom today in Mexico, a pending challenge for the future is to “eradicate discrimination against the community and ensure a social meeting point.”