Empowering Pride: In Conversation With Selena Martinez

Dennis Richmond, Jr., M.S.Ed.
Published on June 03, 2024, 5:50 am
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“I just always felt like a woman,” said Selena Martinez.

In the busy streets of New York City where people from different backgrounds live and work, a community often stands at the intersection of courage and resilience. Transgender women, particularly those of Black and Hispanic descent, face disproportionate levels of violence and discrimination. Yet, within this narrative of struggle and adversity, voices of empowerment and hope emerge. Among them is Selena Martinez, a 25-year-old trans woman from Staten Island. Her journey resonates deeply, reflecting courage, acceptance, and the pursuit of dreams in a city renowned for its diversity.

Selena Martinez is not just any ordinary woman. A truck driver by profession, she navigates the highways and byways of the nation with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). However, beneath the veneer of her current occupation lies a deeper aspiration – a dream to become a nurse. “I do not want truck driving to be my career,” she confides. “I am going back to school to be a nurse.”

Her journey took a poignant turn with the tragic loss of her twin brother, the late Angelo Martinez. Both of Puerto Rican and Italian heritage, their bond was unbreakable. It was Angelo’s passing that prompted Selena to leave school temporarily, grappling with grief and the weight of her own identity. “I always felt like a woman,” she reflects.

For Selena, embracing her true self was not without its challenges. From dressing in private to now proudly expressing her femininity, the journey has been marked by moments of both triumph and tribulation. “I used to dress like a woman, with the doors closed,” she recalls. “Now, I get to do it with the doors open.”

Yet, the path to self-acceptance has not been without its obstacles. Selena recounts a harrowing experience of being attacked at a fast-food restaurant simply for being trans. The assailant was swiftly apprehended, but the scars, both physical and emotional, lingered. “I am still not confident,” she admits.

As a beacon of hope and resilience, Selena Martinez offers sage advice to young trans girls: “Be who you are.” In her words, there lies a profound message of empowerment and authenticity – a reminder that one’s identity is not defined by societal norms or prejudices, but by the courage to embrace one’s truth.

In a city where diversity is celebrated and difference is embraced, Selena Martinez stands as a testament to the power of resilience, the beauty of acceptance, and the unwavering spirit of pride. Her journey, though marked by hardship, is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the transformative power of self-love. As we celebrate Pride Month and the voices of the LGBTQAI+ community, let us not forget the stories of individuals like Selena Martinez, whose courage and resilience continue to inspire us all.


By Dennis Richmond, Jr., M.S.Ed.
Author, He Spoke At My School

Dennis Richmond, Jr., M.S.Ed.
Dennis Richmond, Jr. (born February 11, 1995) is an educator, historian, author, and news reporter. He has a rich history of promoting education and scholarship opportunities for students. He is committed to uncovering and sharing stories about the Black and LGBTQAI+ communities. Dennis has dedicated his efforts to fostering a love for learning and providing valuable resources to students. He is the Founder of The New York-New Jersey HBCU Initiative and the author of He Spoke at My School: An Educational Journey.