“La gente queer y trans es lo que me inspira – El mundo todavía no es para nosotros y lo que quiero es darnos un mundo mejor [Queer and trans people inspire me – the world is still not for us – but I want I want is to give us a better world],” said Ximena Ospina Vargas, a student at Columbia University in New York who works tirelessly as an advocate for transgender and undocumented students like herself. She wants to be sure that members of the queer immigrant community are visible so that other people like her will be better understood, accepted, and celebrated in American society.
Ximena was born in Colombia but moved to Elizabeth, NJ in the United States with her family at the age of five. Much of her inspiration for a fight for queer justice is her own experiences with reparative therapy, bullying, and homelessness, which taught her the value of solidarity and belonging to a community. As an undocumented person, Ximena was unable to access FAFSA, and so went she began attending university, she paid her tuition in cash, working in a variety of industries to pay the bills. Now Ximena attends Columbia University where she helped create the schools’ first undocumented student group, and is the UndocuQueer Coordinator for the New York State Youth Leadership Council. She is the recipient of Point Foundation’s KPMG Scholarship, awarded in recognition of her scholastic and leadership accomplishments as an LGBTQ student.