Celebrating Trans & GNC Heroes of the Pandemic

This Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) we honor trans heroes working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco.

In honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), March 31, 2021, the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives and community partners are launching a multimedia COVID-19 vaccine campaign for the LGBTQ community and allies.

A person with long brown hair, mask, and bandage stands in the Trans District next to a pole striped in the trans pride flag colors of blue, pink, and white. Text above reads “Show Your Pride”, text below reads “Get vaccinated” and “For more info visit sf.gov/getvaccinated” alongside the logos of the Office of Transgender Initiatives and the San Francisco City Seal.

The campaign “Show your Pride! Get Vaccinated.” builds off OTI’s Trans Wellness SF initiative to address the impact of the pandemic on the LGBTQ community, vaccine hesitancy, and to improve access to information and vaccine signups. The campaign uses a mix of video interviews and digital images highlighting LGBTQ community members who have gotten the vaccine and are thriving throughout San Francisco, including The Transgender District, Castro, and more!

Additional information on the campaign can be found at sf.gov/vaccinepride

Also, the Office of Transgender Initiatives, in recognition of TDOV, is honoring trans heroes who have been working on the front lines of the pandemic to support their communities, organization, and those most impacted by COVID-19. Join us in celebrating these fierce TGNC heroes today and everyday! #TDOV #VaccinePride

Check out all the incredible community leaders below!

Photo of Akira Jackson.

Akira Jackson, Executive Director of TAJA’s Coalition

Akira (pronouns: she/her) is the Executive Director of the Transgender Advocates for Justice and Accountability (TAJA) Coalition, a coalition of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Trans-serving organizations.

The TAJA Coalition is San Francisco’s first and one of few nonprofits in the nation to be founded and incorporated by a Black Transgender woman. The goal of TAJA’s Coalition is to end all violence against Trans Women of Color. Trans Women of Color experience violence, discrimination, and harassment in many ways, including in their families, schools, workplaces, their relationships, the criminal justice system, and their communities.

Photo of Nicole Santamaria.

Nicole Santamaría, Executive Director of El/La Para Trans Latinas

Nicole’s (pronouns: she/her) work with the LGBTQI community started as a professor of Design & Art Therapy, where she conducted art therapy workshops and investigative projects in El Salvador for survivors of anti-LGBTQI violence, HIV positive women, and other survivors. She went on to co-found Colectiva Alejandria SV, collaborating with activists, human rights organizations and government entities in Central America, the Caribbean and the US to raise awareness of the realities of LGBTQI communities in these countries, with an emphasis on transgender women in poor communities. Nicole currently serves as Executive Director of El/La Para TransLatinas, developing El/La’s diverse programs while supporting staff’s growth, strengthening partnerships with community allies, ensuring continued financial stability, and serving as spokesperson to the public at large, with a holistic approach, opening the space for healing journeys.

Photo of Aria Sa’id.

Aria Sa’id, Executive Director, The Transgender District

Aria Sa’id (pronouns: she/her) is a transgender advocate and award winning political strategist based in San Francisco Bay Area. She is a founder and the Executive Director of the Transgender District- the world’s first transgender district and she is the founder of Kween Culture Initiative- a social empowerment project for Black transgender women. Ms. Sa’id and her work have been featured in numerous media platforms including Forbes, Vogue, CNN, Marie Claire, The Guardian, Huffington Post and more. In 2019, she was listed in the annual OUT100 which highlights 100 of the worlds influential LGBT leaders, and she is the youngest Black transgender woman recipient of Resolutions from the California legislature.

Photo of Nicky Calma, aka Tita Aida.

Nicky (Tita Aida) Calma, Director of Programs and Community Engagement at SF Community Health Center

Photo of Maceo Persson.

Nicky (pronouns: she/her) is a long-time advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, particularly among Asian American communities, and for the transgender people. She was crucial in educating and de-stigmatizing HIV/AIDS in the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) LGBT communities in the early 1990s through her work with the Asian AIDS Project, which became the API Wellness Center and is now known as the San Francisco Community Health Center. She has served with the organization for over 20 years.

Maceo Persson, Equity Supervisor at CCC and Director of Communication at Office of Transgender Initiatives

Maceo Persson (pronouns: he/him) is serving as the Equity Supervisor for the COVID Command Center’s (CCC) Community Branch. In this role, Maceo is supporting a team that is providing community testing and COVID-19 vaccinations in the field. Maceo is also working as a liaison between the LGBTQ community and the City’s COVID-19 response. When Maceo is not at the CCC, he serves as the Director of Communications for the Office of Transgender Initiatives.

Drawing of Anjali Rimi.

Anjali Rimi Koka, President of Parivar Bay Area and Co-chair of SF Bay Area LGBTQI+ COVID Relief Coalition

Anjali Rimi (Koka)(pronouns: she/they) thrives in the community showing up as a leader driving accountability for Trans Justice. Keeping connected to her Indian Asian roots, she co-founded and serves as the President for Parivar Bay Area, the first South Asian TGNCI Queer Trans Organization.

Rimi serves on boards for The LGBT Asylum Project, East Bay Stonewall Democrats and San Francisco Pride along with being on The Trans Advisory Committee with the Office of Transgender Initiatives, Anjali Rimi holds an MBA and has been in Corporate America for over 20 years in Business Development & ecommerce operations leadership roles. She is an effective facilitator and a consultant with DiversityJourneys holding workshops across many inclusion topics.

Photo of Luis Gutierrez-Mock.

Luis Gutierrez-Mock, MPH, MA

Luis (pronouns: he/him) is a Pandemic Response Specialist at the UCSF Pandemic Initiative for Equity and Action. He works on several COVID research projects and is a training lead for the California COVID-19 Virtual Training Academy, which has trained over 10,000 contact tracers and case investigators. Prior to COVID, Luis worked in transgender HIV prevention for 20 years through direct service, advocacy, research, and capacity building roles.

Photo of Shannon Amitin.

Shannon Amitin– Trans activist and co-founder of SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund

Shannon (pronouns: they/them) is a Trans activist, community builder, and entrepreneur dedicated to preserving space for LGBTQ+ folks in San Francisco.

Since January 2020, they have worked at San Francisco Pride, working to help transition the city’s annual largest outdoor event to an online format with year-round programming. Shannon is passionate about partnering with the LGBTQ+ community to create spaces and events for all queer folks — especially BIPOC, transgender, and gender-nonconforming folks, and women.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shannon joined the San Francisco Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund to advocate and support Queer nightlife workers. To date, QNF has raised over $300,000 and hosted 23 events including the Nightlife Talks series and Quaran-Tea, a Sunday tea-dance.

Photo of Jackie Thornhill.

Jackie Thornhill, Deputy Lead for Content Team at San Francisco’s COVID Command Center

Jackie Thornhill (pronouns: she/her) is the Deputy Lead for the Content Team in San Francisco’s COVID Command Center’s (CCC) Joint Information Center. Prior to joining the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), she served as an Aide to Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and as a Disaster Service Worker at the EOC and CCC. Jackie manages DEM’s social media content distribution and has produced hundreds of videos promoting compliance with public health orders and COVID-19 vaccines.

Photo of Joaquin Meza.

Joaquin Meza, Trans Care Coordinator at SF AIDS Foundation

Joaquin (pronouns: they/them) is a proud queer, non-binary, transmasculine Chicanx person. Currently, they lead transgender clinical programming as the Trans Care coordinator at the SF AIDS Foundation. Joaquin is enrolled at SF State’s Master of Public Health Program and focuses on how health care access policies, community structures, and housing access can help cultivate healthy queer and trans communities. Joaquin is committed to improving access to equitable and anti-racist trans health services. They believe that all people deserve to have a voice in making decisions regarding their health.

Photo of Xristina Blioux.

Xristina Blioux, CPT at the SF Department of Public Health

Xristina (pronouns: she/her) is a T.V. starlet and is in training as the new Deputy Ops for COVID Command Center’s (CCC) Outbreak Management Group (OMG Branch). Initially starting as the Case Investigator/Outbreak Specialist in prioritizing equity and in identifying COVID cases, attending mass field testing, and acting as the Isolation & Quarantine (I&Q) resource for COVID-19 related cases. In December 2020, Xristina moved up the ladder in becoming the Training and Guidance Lead for the OMG branch in onboarding new staff and overseeing the five emergency response designated service sites: SRO, Shelter & Encampment, Skilled Nurse Facility, Residential Care Facility, and Clinical Consult.

Prior to COVID, Xristina provided cultural and linguistic competency for over 20 years and has been an ambassador for all communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised. Xristina reminds us to Empower ourselves.

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San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives

OTI works with community and the City and County of San Francisco to advance equity for transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.