Actor Selenis Leyva and Sister, Marizol, Advocate for Trans Women of Color

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Mar 24, 2020

Selenis Leyva (“Diary of a Future President;” “Orange Is the New Black”) and her sister Marizol published their new memoir, “My Sister,” on March 24, where they write “about the issues of violence, abuse, and discrimination that transgender people and women of color—and especially trans women of color—experience daily,” according to the book’s publisher’s page. In a recent interview with Remezcla, the two sisters discuss how Marizol’s transition changed them both and the importance of trans women of color’s representation in literature, among other topics.

To write the book, Selenis said, “I was inspired by what was clearly a lack of representation for transgender people who weren’t famous or rich. When Kaitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, I was so happy for her.” But Selenis understood that Jenner did not represent everyone. “Then quickly I thought, ‘This isn’t my sister’s experience. This isn’t how many Latinx and Black trans people will be seen or accepted,’” Selenis told Remezcla. “I knew that it was crucial to open up the conversation to be inclusive not just for my sister and our family but for countless others as well.”

Marizol echoes her sister’s sentiments about the desire to uplift a community that is often ignored. “As a trans woman of color, I spent many lonely nights alone with pain that I could have never imagined and the reality is that I am not the only one who experiences this type of loneliness, pain and trauma,” said Marizol, whose story is the narrative that anchors the memoir. “I share our story to give hope to my LGBTQ+ community, to let them know that they aren’t alone!” 

Regarding family members who may have loved ones in transition, Selenis said she wants the book to be a resource guide for them. “I am hoping people will read our story and have more empathy, more understanding about what transgender folk experience,” said Selenis. “This book is our way of telling people ‘Even if you don’t understand or agree, you still have to respect.’” 

To read the full interview, visit Remezcla