Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans001.jpg
1 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

A tribute to Lorena Borjas who died of Covid on March 30, 2020. As a documentary photographer the trans-Latin sisters have been a recurring theme in my work. The last photo I took of Lorena was on her birthday on May 27, 2016. This photo is a personal tribute that I perform for Lorena on a Brooklyn beach.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans003.jpg
2 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Detail of Lorena Borjas gravestone at the St. John Cemetery in New York City.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans008.jpg
3 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Detail of  the St. John Cemetery in New York City where Lorena Borjas’ gravestone is located.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans007.jpg
4 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Perla de Sales and Bonny Diaz pay their respects and bid farewell to Lorena Borjas’ remains at the remembrance event in celebration of Lorena Borjas’ life held on April 01, 2021, at the St. John Cemetery in New York City.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans010.jpg
5 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Amy Lobo pays her respects at an altar made to honor Lorena Borjas, transgender activist who fought for the Trans community’s rights in New York City and is regarded as the mother of Translatina women. Lorena died alone at the Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, due to COVID-19 illness on March 30, 2020. One year later, the Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo, a social collective founded by Lorena, opened its doors and commemorated her legacy in  Jackson Heights, Queens on March 30 2021.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans009.jpg
6 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Altar created to commemorate the anniversary of Lorena Borjas’ decease due to COVID-19 on March 30, 2020. Lorena died alone at the Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. One year later the Trans community celebrate her legacy. The altar is located at the offices of Collective Intercultural TRANSgrediendo, a social collective founded by Lorena, on March 16, 2021 in Queens, New York. The Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo is an organization that works to expand access to comprehensive health care for Transgender people.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans004.jpg
7 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Laura Martínez prepares to perform at the first anniversary of Lorena Borjas’ passing. Immigrant transgender activist Lorena Borjas was memorialized by having a street co-named at Baxter Avenue and 83rd Street in Elmhurst, on March 31, 2021, in Queens, New York. Laura Martínez is a famous drag performer in the Latino LGBTQ+ community. She has been working in the entertainment business for over 15 years, and is followed by many emerging drags and transgender immigrants who aspire to be like her.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans029.jpg
8 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Alexa Felix, elder transgender artist, performs through a plastic curtain, which was hung as part of the safety measures implemented for COVID-19  at Luna’s Kitchen Bar in Jackson Heights, Queens on February 9, 2021.  
Alexa is a Cuban professional artist who has done performances since the age of nine; she arrived to the United States from Cuba in the eighties, and has been an immigrant for 42 years. In May 2020, Alexa was diagnosed with COVID-19 and managed a satisfactory recovery from it. Currently, she is vaccinated and continues to perform to her audiences, to whom she says she owes everything.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans017.jpg
9 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

A Transgender woman Joselyn Mendoza (in blue) ,Betty UBttm (in black) and other volunteers of the L.G.B.T.Q Latino community are getting ready to collaborate in the food pantry Love Wins delivering groceries to vulnerable people in Jackson Heights, Queens in response to the Covid -19 pandemic on December 12,2020 New York.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans018.jpg
10 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Lesly Herrera  was volunteers at The Love Wins food Pantry that use to providing vegetables  and non perishable food to the LGBTQ community and neighbors in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York on18 September 2020.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans006.jpg
11 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Detail of cake made to celebrate-the opening of the headquarters for the first community center for Trans and Gender-Nonconforming people in Queens The Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo at 8305 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights, NY 11372, on March 31, 2021.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading DSC_2114.jpg
12 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Alexa Felix, celebrating her birthday party at her home in Queens . Alexa is a Cuban professional artist who has
done performances since the age of nine;
she arrived to the United States from Cuba in
the eighties, and has been an immigrant for
42 years. In May 2020, Alexa was diagnosed with COVID-19 and managed a satisfactory recovery from it. Currently, she is vaccinated and continues to perform to her audiences, to whom she says she owes everything.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans014.jpg
13 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Laura Martínez performs at the first anniversary of Lorena Borjas’ passing. Immigrant transgender activist Lorena Borjas was memorialized by having a street co-named at Baxter Avenue and 83rd Street in Elmhurst, on March 31, 2021, in Queens, New York. Laura Martínez is a famous drag performer in the Latino LGBTQ+ community. She has been working in the entertainment business for over 15 years, and is followed by many emerging drags and transgender immigrants who aspire to be like her.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans005.jpg
14 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Erick makeup model at the afternoon practice makeup sessions for scholarship recipients from Mirror Beauty Cooperative. March 12, 2021, Jackson Heights, New York City. Mirror Trans Beauty LLC is a worker cooperative for Trans Latina cosmetologists and makeup artists in New York. It was created to protect the Latino Transgender community from discrimnation; they provide a safe space and education in beauty and cosmetology. Mirror Beauty’s efforts give job opportunities for a community widely discriminated against, especially so when looking for employment outside of sexual work. Mirror Trans Beauty seeks to change stereotypes in education and entrepreneurship fields, which are often seen as cumbersome by the women in the community who wish to study or work. Mirror also help undocumented, immigrant communities to pursue education and to connect with other talented folks within the community.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading 8009220__210213_0013.JPG
15 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

From left to right: Lesly Herrera and Joselyn Mendoza, founders of the first Trans-owned co-op in New York, style and apply makeup to one of their partners during the afternoon practice makeup sessions organized by Mirror Trans Beauty LLC. February 13, 2021. Mirror Trans Beauty LLC is a worker co-op for Trans Latina cosmetologists and makeup artists in New York, established to protect the Latino Transgender community from discrimination. They provide a safe space and education in beauty and cosmetology; their efforts give job opportunities for a community widely discriminated against, especially so when looking for employment outside of sexual work. Mirror Trans Beauty seeks to change stereotypes in education and entrepreneurship fields, which are often seen as cumbersome by the women in the community who wish to study or work. Mirror also help undocumented immigrant communities to pursue education and to connect with other talented folks within the community.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans031.jpg
16 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Andrés Rojas, is a non-binary student and scholarship recipients from Mirror Trans Beauty LLC, shows the diploma. Thanks to the scholarship, Andrés will be able to pursue further education in makeup artistry. Jackson Heights, New York. June 12, 2021.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans021.jpg
17 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Christin Guerrero represents TransLatinx fury as she walks through the streets of Roosevelt Ave in Jackson Heights, vindicating the existence, struggle and courage that many of her trans siblings face. She is on her way to host her show at Trans Health Awareness month 2021.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans022.jpg
18 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Christin Guerrero performs at Trans Health Awareness month 2021at Lorena Borjas Way in Jackson Heights.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans024.jpg
19 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Daniela Soler says goodbye to her trans sister at the end of the event Trans Health Awareness month 2021 en Lorena Borjas Way, Jackson Heights, Queens New York.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading 8009220_210803_0090.JPG
20 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Detail of Translatina participant at the celebration of the 10th Annual Trans Latinx March 2021 held in Corona Plaza Queens,New York. This celebration called out violence targeting trans Latinx communities in Queens.

Art and Documentary Photography - Loading covidtrans015.jpg
21 of 21 © 2023 Joana Toro

Daniela Soler is performing to Lorena Borjas at the event Trans Health Awareness month 2021 en Lorena Borjas Way, Jackson Heights, Queens New York.

Public Story
TransLatinx Resilience against Covid-19
Copyright joana toro 2023
Updated Aug 2022
Location Queens New York
Topics Documentary, Editorial, Fine Art, Gay Rights, Health/Healing, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Journalism, Photography, Photojournalism
TransLatinx Resilience against Covid-19 (2020-2021)

This project documents how transgender and gender nonconforming Latinx immigrants in Queens, NY have mobilized to resist the impact of the Covid-19.

The starting point of this essay the tragic passing of TransLatina activist and icon Lorena Borjas due to COVID-19 illness. Lorena worked for over 26 years on the frontlines, fighting to help the Trans immigrant community in Queens survive and to navigate the seemingly insurmountable challenges of ongoing discrimination in employment, homelessness, hate crimes, and poverty.

These photographs celebrate the beauty and resilience of a community which has been severely impacted by loss of life and livelihood caused by the pandemic.

This work was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Emergency Fund for Journalists.

Hello I Am Kitty.

Book of the project I Am Hello Kitty: Latino immigrants dressed as icons of American influence.
Website via Visura

Hello I Am Kitty. is integrated to:
Visura site builder, a tool to grow your photography business
Visura's network for visual storytellers and journalists
A photography & film archive by Visura
Photography grants, open calls, and contests
A newsfeed for visual storytellers