Visibili-T: Elizabeth Tomanguilla, She/Her/Ella

Visibili-T is dedicated to transgender members of our community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, some you know and many you don’t. It is designed to amplify their voices and detail their experiences in life.

In this issue we check in with Tampa Bay’s Elizabeth Tomanguilla, a Peru native who moved to the U.S. in 2004. She loves home improvement projects and currently works in Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company.

Her professional life is one of the many ways she advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized voices. It’s something Tomanguilla discussed with Watermark last year for National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I’m not necessarily marching in the streets but I am helping by bringing equality into the corporate world,” she shared. “A lot of what I do involves connecting LGBTQ folks, especially gender diverse folks, to the right hiring managers.”
It’s something dear to her that she doesn’t take for granted.

“Personally, I am privileged to have access to gender-affirming care, gainful employment and access to education,” she says. “This is not true for many trans people in the U.S., who lack access to all these basic rights.”
Tomanguilla has seen that firsthand in her role.

“I’ve met so many trans people through my work from all over the world; from Brazil, from England, from the Philippines,” she told Watermark last year. “That lets me not only meet trans people from all over the world but people who are gender diverse with different lived experiences with different perspectives.”

Now, Tomanguilla adds that “I love being working with people and in this job, I get to do this daily.” Cultivating connections like those are a part of what makes her professional life so special — something she says she could have used when coming out as trans a decade ago.

“Be patient,” she would tell her younger self now. “I would tell myself to be patient, as all comes in due time, and that the beauty is in the moments. As many people say, happiness is in the journey, not in the destination.

“When I first came out as a trans woman, I did not know any other trans person and didn’t have any role models from the trans community,” Tomanguilla continues. “It’s different now, because there are many other trans people who are visible.”

It’s part of why she wanted to participate in Visibili-T. “I feel I am contributing to the visibility of the community as a whole,” she notes.

Tomanguilla does so in multiple ways, speaking at and attending events throughout Tampa Bay and beyond. She says it’s given her the opportunity to engage with other LGBTQ+ leaders, one of her favorite parts about being in the local community.

“I have met amazing LGBTQ+ leaders in Tampa Bay, and I have found a little bit of everything, from talented performers who entertain our community every weekend, to powerful public speakers, to everyday trans people who work in corporate jobs like myself,” she says. “I think the inherent diversity as well as the diversity of thought in our local trans community is amazing. I have learned so much and continue to learn from many individuals in our community.”

There are changes she’d like to see, of course. Tomanguilla says there’s a common misconception that the trans community is homogenous.

“The reality is that like many other communities, transgender people come in all shapes, colors, sizes, backgrounds and experiences,” she says. “Our community is every bit diverse as any other group.”

She’d also like to see additional trans-focused events.

“There are some local events which cater to the trans community in Tampa Bay, but there can be more,” Tomanguilla says. “I believe trans programming is lacking in comparison to other parts of the country, where there are specific trans events, trans groups in social media and trans forums.”

Programming and other trans-focused initiatives are a part of her ideal future. It’s her hope that “trans visibility will continue to increase, becoming as common as gay and lesbian visibility.”

Before and until then, Tomanguilla says she’s ready to connect with others.

“I want to share the spotlight with as many trans people as possible,” she says. “I believe in the power of community, and for that, I wish to connect with other like-minded individuals in Tampa Bay.”

Interested in being featured in Visibili-T? Email Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Williams in Central Florida or Managing Editor Ryan Williams-Jent in Tampa Bay.

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