HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's more than a piece of paper. For the last five months, dozens of transgender people have received new identification documents from the Consulate General of Mexico that reflect their gender identity and name change.
Advocates said this recognition helps remove some barriers for a population vulnerable to discrimination and poor mental health. One of those individuals is Isabelle Quiroz. She was born and raised in Mexico, but began her transition and living as her authentic self about 20 years ago after moving to Houston.
"I started with hormones, my hair, and makeup, dresses, sandals, high heels, perfumes for ladies, eyeshadow, makeup, everything. That's when I finally started my second life," she said.
But there was always something missing. Quiroz's identification documents didn't reflect her gender identity or name change. She said going to places like the bank or government offices would often give her anxiety.
"They would call me by the other name and I am very uncomfortable with that. It's very complicated for my mind," she said.
Elia Chino is the founder and executive director of FLAS (Fundación LatinoAmericana de Acción Social). The organization provides health and social services to improve the wellness of the LGBTQ+ and Latino communities in Houston.
"These types of situations cause not only discomfort, but can make someone feel angry. Their low self-esteem goes down, leading to depression and anxiety. That's why we see a high number of transgender people dying by suicide. They don't see hope. They don't see life on the road," Chino said.
But that changed earlier this year when the Consul General of Mexico in Houston began issuing new birth certificates, passports, and Mexican IDs to the transgender community. Since January 20, they've served more than 70 people in our area.
"I am very happy. Finally, we are visible," said Quiroz.
Ambassador Alicia Kerber-Palma with the Consul General of Mexico said it's only one step forward in the fight for human rights.
"This is a response to the demand of a very important sector of our community. That is the LGBTQ+ community," said Kerber-Palma. "For us, it's taking someone in hiding to allow them to be open. You don't need to hide who you identify with or who you love just because other people consider that that's not normal. They need to feel proud of who they are and that they are secure here at the consulate."
She explained they work closely with local organizations, such as FLAS to help get the word out. Chino said the official documentation represents dignity and respect for the transgender community.
"It was a celebration. Finally, it was justice for the transgender community, because, for a long time, they've been starving for this to happen in Houston," said Chino. "This is a big deal because we are progressing in human rights. I applaud Mexico for that."
Chino said they are working with consulates from other countries to offer this service in Houston. Quiroz hopes that one day, this option will be available to everyone across the country.
"Now, it's time for everybody to do it. We are humans. We are people. We do so many things for society," said Quiroz.