Post submitted by Allan Fisher-Garcia, HRC San Antonio Community Engagement Co-chair
HRC is proud to celebrate the work of San Antonio Mayor Ronald Nirenberg’s LGBTQ Advisory Comission which, in the last year, has created important steps for the Alamo City to become more inclusive.
The city’s LGBTQ Advisory Commission reflects a growing commitment among San Antonio government officials to provide LGBTQ-inclusive services. Last year, Nirenberg spoke out and testified in opposition to anti-transgender SB 3, which sought to restrict access to restrooms for transgender Texans.
On the 2017 HRC Foundation Municipal Equality Index, which examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there, the city scored 95 out of a possible 100 points.
One of the 15 individuals selected to serve on the city’s commission was HRC San Antonio Steering Committee Chair Luka Rios, a leader in the local transgender community.
For Rios, the appointment to the committee has been a humbling experience.
“To be part of the mayor’s advisory committee is a true honor,” said Rios. “I never imagined as a young girl growing up in the west side that I would be part of such a monumental trajectory in the city.”
Rios’s involvement with HRC began nearly four years ago. She became acquainted with the organization after volunteering to phone bank. Rios is now the first transgender woman to be a chair on the steering committee’s gala committee.
“Growing up in this city was like any other I imagine,” said Rios. “There was no information or resources about the LGBTQ culture, and the only thing people vocalized in a community heavily influenced by Mexican culture was homophobia.”
From a young age, Rios knew she was different from her peers. Before knowing the concept of gender, Rios only regarded the difference between boys and girls by the length of their hair.
“I never understood why I couldn't be one with long hair. It wasn't until I went to school and learned about sexes that I realized I didn't feel like a boy,” said Rios.
When Rios did come out as transgender to her parents, she received loving affirmation from her father. He later admitted to her that he knew she was different from a young age, although he didn’t quite understand at the time.
Years later, Rios’s experience with healthcare and education led her to become a public health educator with the Alamo Area Resource Center (AARC). AARC aims to provide free to low cost healthcare for indigent people in Bexar County and the surrounding area.
“I bring the perspective of a Latinx, trans woman who has overcome religious, economic and social barriers to this work,” said Rios. “I conquered my childhood by living as my true authentic self from a very young age.”
Rios hopes her role on the advisory commission will help create a bridge between the local government and civic organizations and the LGBTQ community that leads to action and positive change.
To find out more about Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee visit www.sanantonio.gov/mayor. To learn about the Municipal Equality Index or to find out how you can get involved with the Human Rights Campaign, visit www.hrc.org