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Heroes, Pioneers and Trailblazers 2010 Honoree: Sandra Usi Ramirez

SAN DIEGO -- They make a difference in our lives. Some are well-known activists in San Diego's LGBT community and others are working tirelessly outside the spotlight.

Ten key players in the LGBT community will be honored Feb. 26 at a Heroes, Pioneers and Trailblazers gala at The Center that is sponsored by Lambda Archives of San Diego (LASD).

In the days leading up to the gala, SDGLN will profile each of these individuals and provide our readers with an inside peak at what this award means to each honoree.

2010 Honoree Sandra Usi Ramirez

Sandra Usi Ramirez is a native of Acapulco, Mexico. At age 16, Ramirez made her transition.

“My family didn’t agree at first,” Ramirez dsof. “They knew that people like me suffer a lot in many ways because too much discrimination exists in our society. But they have always loved me and have accepted me no matter what.”

Seeking a better life and freedom from many things, Ramirez moved to the U.S. 14 years ago. As a male to female transgender, Ramirez has spent her time in San Diego working tirelessly with the Latino transgender community. She provides education, support and, most importantly, a message to the transgender community that they do not often hear: you are not alone.

Ramirez has gathered and shared information on many issues including: transgender legal rights, immigration and naturalization issues, safety, health care, HIV prevention and support, psychology and self-esteem. For the past six years, she has also facilitated and been instrumental in bringing education to the weekly transgender discussion group that is now part of The Center’s Latino Services. She has also worked closely the former Binational AIDS Advocacy in San Diego, Bienestar and Christie’s Place.

Her motivation to work extensively with the Latino transgender community comes from her sister Sandra, who through many difficult times in Ramirez’s life has been very supportive. She has been awarded the Champion of Pride Award for her work with the Latino transgender community and has also been honored with the 2003 Angel Award from Christie’s Place, and the 2005 Transgender Day of Empowerment Award.

“This award means for me is personally a special prize,” Ramirez said. “I want to dedicate it to my family and friends who have always supported me and the Transgender Group 2000. I am so proud to serve my community and I also want to thank the agencies that support transgender needs while also serving the greater LGBT community.”

Personally Ramirez would like to thank the following individuals for their support in various group causes: Carolina Ramos Terry Albritton, Robin Slade, Maricela Escobar, Amador Cerda, Lizbeth Pineda, Victor Pereda.

About Lambda Archives of San Diego

LASD’s mission is to collect, preserve and teach the history of LGBT people in the San Diego and Northern Baja California region. Although most of the collections date to post-1970, there are original materials dating back to the 1930s.

LASD believes that history is best served by the records and cultural artifacts of those people who are directly involved in its events and so its staff has dedicated itself to preserving and interpreting this important historical record since its establishment in 1987. LASD is an all-volunteer, nonprofit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors and also one of the largest collections of LGBT history in the country.

LASD Honoree Selection Process

The fundraising gala -- which debuted in 2007 -- recognizes individuals, both locally and nationally, who have made a difference in the lives of LGBT persons through their dedication, commitment, financial resources and/or political participation.

The LASD board chooses honorees based on a criterion that focuses on diversity by including individuals from diverse segments of the community and from a broad spectrum of individual characteristics such as ethnicity, race, LGBT identification, etc. As is customary for the board, nominees who had received other major honors this year or who could not attend the event were held out for future consideration. Although no public call for nominations currently exists, the board considers any nomination from the community to be equal to those made by its members.

Previous honorees include business professionals, activists and people like state Sen. Christine Kehoe, Cleve Jones, Tom Reise, Fritz Klein and SDGLN contributor Ben Cartwright.

For information about purchasing tickets to the 2010 gala, visit SDGLN's Events Calendar.