Raising transgender awareness through #SAFEBATHROOMSDC

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- I first met Miss Lopez back in 2012. I was introduced to her family who immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua and talked to her about her transition at age 17 from Carlos to Consuella. In the 2 years since we last met, Consuella's career has skyrocketed.

"It did, Delia, and I don't know how," she exclaimed.

The master hairstylist owns her own salon and now holds a political position in the DC Office of Human Rights.

"Transwomen of color," she said, "our expected life span in the DMV area is not supposed to live past 30 and my best friend died at 30."

In fact 60 percent of her friends died tragically to the streets that often are the only escape for a transgender girl cast out by family, friends, and society. Consuella's lucky though - thanks to her family.

"I think because we were so insecure and wanted attention from men, straight looking men we thought it was ok," she explained.

According to the office of human rights, 89% of transgender women of color are sex workers kept in business at night by the some of the same johns who discriminate against them during the day.

"Even though DC is progressive and there's training for transgender women, they're still not getting hired," she said.

That's where Consuella comes in: with her passion and life story. She has appeared in a city wide transgender awareness ad and is now pushing for Safe Bathrooms DC: a campaign to make sure all city businesses with a single stall bathroom remain gender neutral according to DC law.

"Think about this…there needs to be a campaign just for us to use the bathroom," she said as she begins to tear up and reaches for a tissue. "No one can understand what it feels like to be a transgender woman living in a city that is accepting more of transmen than transgender women; more of white transgender women than transgender women of color."

But perhaps with her help, we can begin to understand.

If you see a single bathroom in a DC business with a "men" or "women" sign instead of a generic "restroom" or signs for both, the Office of Human Rights is asking that you snap a picture of on your cellphone and post or tweet that picture using the hashtag: #SafeBathroomsDC. They say it's not about busting business owners but making them aware of the current law.


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